Treatment and Prevention of Blisters
A common complaint athletes have is the formation of blisters on their feet. They arise in areas that are subjected to excessive and repetitive friction. In addition, heat and moisture contribute to blister formation by softening the outer layer of skin. These factors are all present during activities such as running. While blisters typically are a painful nuisance, they may develop into an infection if not properly cared for.
Some blisters will resolve if left alone, but if the blister is painful, it may be drained. Using rubbing alcohol, sterilize a needle and the skin over the blister. Carefully lance the thin, outer layer of the blister and drain the fluid. Apply an antiseptic (iodine or antibiotic ointment) and cover with a bandage. Continue to watch for any signs of infection over the next few days as the blister heals.
If you develop recurrent blisters, you may treat them after they form; however, a better solution is to prevent their formation.
There are numerous products available that can decrease the coefficient of friction. These products (Body Glide, Bag Balm, or petroleum jelly) act as a lubricant when applied to the skin.
If your feet sweat a lot, your skin will soften over time increasing the likelihood of a blister. Foot powders can help absorb excess moisture keeping your skin dry and intact. Spraying your feet with an antiperspirant is another easy option.
The next step in prevention is wearing proper socks which should be made from a synthetic, moisture-wicking fabric. Consider wearing a double-layered sock (WrightSock) as it reduces friction against your skin. If you tend to develop blisters between your toes, a toesock (Injinji) provide extra protection.
And finally, the most common cause of blister formation is improperly fitting shoes. Make sure your shoes fit properly around your heel and that there is plenty of room in the toebox. Shoes that are too long or wide can cause your heel to slide and lead to a heel blister. Shoes that are too short or narrow increase the frictional forces upon your toes.
The best treatment of blisters is pro-active prevention. By following these suggestions, blisters do not have to be a part of your sport or exercise routine.