Tips for Blister Prevention

With a little forethought, blisters, in most cases, can be avoided and cause very little trouble.

Signs and Symptoms

These painful, fluid-filled lesions on the outer layer of your skin--usually your feet--always have a layer of skin covering them. Their color can range from clear to red or blue if blood vessels break. If you pay close attention to your body, you'll feel a blister before it has even formed. The area will start to feel "hot" and uncomfortable. Stop right now and the blister will never form. Keep going, and you'll have no doubt that you have a blister. At the very least, a small blister will burn and tingle slightly. A large blister can become so painful it will force you to stop exercising.

Causes

Improper Shoes: Shoes that are too big or too small can cause your foot to move around too much, or to continually hit the side of the shoe. This friction causes blisters.

The Wrong Socks: Wearing socks that are too big or too small, or ones that are made of an irritating material, can cause blisters. Wearing no socks at all can also cause problems.

Protruding Foot Parts: Sometimes a prominent part of your foot, such as a bunion or hammer toes, sticks out and rubs against your shoes and causes friction.

Too Much Moisture: If you exercise in shoes that are damp from sweat or rain, it will cause your foot to slide around and cause friction.

Change in Exercise Surface: The friction of running on hot surfaces, such as an asphalt street in the middle of the day can cause blisters. Also, switching to a different track can be the culprit.

RX Measures

Drain the blister. If the blister is very large and painful, boil a needle or razor blade for 15 minutes to sterilize it. Cleanse the area with alcohol and slightly puncture the blister two or three times. The liquid will drain out and relief should be immediate. Do not take the piece of skin that acts as the roof of the blister off. This skin will protect the tender skin underneath. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic and place a gauze pad over the blister. Tape the pad around the blister. Remove the pad at night to allow air to circulate.

To Avoid Future Problems

1. Spread petroleum jelly or talcum powder over areas which develop blisters frequently. This will cut the friction.

2. Change socks, shoes or road surfaces that cause the problem.

3. Pad areas of your foot which protrude with foam padding, moleskin, or other products made for this purpose.

4. For chronic problems, you can relieve pressure points with shoe modifications or orthotics.


Copyright, The American Running Association.

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