Drying Out

dave : December 4, 2010 11:33 am : Articles

Anti-hydral Products

Selection of Anti hydral products, Driclor, Antihydral and Udder Cream.

Looking back over the years I’ve always had a problem, I just didn’t know the name for it.

Every year as the summer months come in my climbing performance drops spectacularly. On routes I have to chalk up every few moves, which sometimes makes no difference. I can’t use small holds smaller than half a pad. Skin cuts easily on sharp edges. Slopers can’t be used. I have to carry several pairs of shoes and socks. With out them sweat quickly boils over shoes destroying them.

At uni I could barely hold a pen taking notes as my hand kept slipping. In the car if I chat about the crux of a route my hands drip with sweat on the wheel. Watching other people climb without a problem, at 14 degrees its definitely not too hot to climb. I’ve always had an inclination towards climbing in cold weather. The problem is not the weather, the problem is with me. The pieces had always been staring me in the face. I have hyperhidrosis (excessive sweat).

Licked Tips

Splodgey finger tips after finger boarding.

As another summer came in this year and I lost sight of my project again, I decided enough was enough. Over the years I’ve heard of climbers using mainly three products to dry out skin. Antihydral (aka stump cream), Driclor (Aluminium Chloride) and Udderly (aka Udder cream). I got a hold of them and got experimenting.


Antihydral cream.


I’d been advised that Antihydral can be applied the night before climbing to dry skin out. Personally I have found it takes a few days to become effective. Antihydral works by killing the skin cells causing it to thicken. I used too much at first which transformed my skin into thick yellow callouses.

I found my finger tips and skin to be much drier after a few days and hold chalk really well. However, I used too many treatments and my skin thickened too much. Thick skin for climbing I have found to be really bad. There is less deformation of the finger tips around small holds (basically this feels like climbing in gloves) and there is no sweat. But wasn’t that the point? Well no, I found that my skin was as polished as a limestone classic. Dipping for chalk was unproductive. I was advised to sand off the excess skin. I found this made things even worse. Without any finger print my pads had even less friction on smooth holds and chalk wouldn’t bind into the finger print. I often pinged off holds from polished skin. When washing my skin turned to thick white rubber and eventually peeled off leaving the tender skin underneath. I’ve also heard a few people complain about splits and flappers using Antihydral, but I didn’t have any trouble myself.

Application part 1

Apply a tiny amount to each tip.

Suggested Antihydral Treatment Plan

I’ve found this programme to work well for me, do experiment and find what works best for you. Antihydral isn’t available in the UK. You can order it from the German site, there is a english menu option available. Do remember to test a small amount on your skin first in case of allergy.

  • Use overnight applying before bed when skin is dry.
  • Apply a small dab to each finger tip/pad.
  • Spread evenly and fairly thick across tips/pads avoiding creases in the fingers.
  • Allow a few minutes to dry.
  • Thin gloves can be handy to sleep in. Although creepy you then don’t have to worry about getting it in your eyes, face or sheets.
  • Wait a few days to observe results, skin needs time to grow.
  • Apply once to twice a week depending on how regularly you climb.
  • Moisturise to avoid skin splitting.
  • Sand tips to remove excess skin as required. Rasp skin to increase friction.
  • Skin grows out in a couple of weeks and cycle starts again.

Application part two

Spread around tip and pads avoiding skin folds and allow to dry.


Driclor in roller applicator bottle.


I didn’t try Driclor on my hands, just the bottom two contact points – my feet. I had tried Antihydral on my feet for a few weeks but didn’t find much benefit. I’ll try again next year. I did tried Driclor and found this to be effective. Driclor is a strong deodorant available from the chemist. I followed a nightly schedule putting it on before bed for a few nights in a row. I found this to be 50% effective. My shoes were much drier at the end of a summer climbing session, but still damp. Effective enough to keep using I’d say. Two to three days of applications lasted me around 10 days. The only downside was when the skin does get wet during bathing it tends to sting for a minute or two.

The third option, Udder cream I’ve not had time to try yet but will update on my findings.

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