If you are an enthusiastic runner, you're sure to have had the experience of having your race ruined because you've developed a blister. How can you avoid this problem? In this article, we review the common causes of blisters and provide sound advice to help you prevent and treat blisters effectively. Read on to learn more.
What Causes Blisters?
Friction is the main culprit in the formation of blisters. Usually, if you have friction between your sock and your skin, you'll get a blister. If your feet are very sweaty or wet for some other reason, your skin will soften. This makes it even more likely that you'll get a blister.
If your shoes don't fit right, you will also be prone to developing blisters. Shoes that are too tight will rub a blister, and so will shoes that are too loose. Additionally, if you tie your shoes very tightly, you could cause a blister.
What Can You Do to Prevent Blisters?
Arm yourself against developing blisters by following these smart tips:
- 1Fit your shoes correctly. Generally speaking, running shoes should be about a half size larger than your regular everyday shoes. This is because your feet will swell while you're running.
When you try your shoes on before purchasing them, do so at the end of the day when your feet will tend to be a little bit swollen from walking and standing throughout the day. Have the clerk at the store measure your feet correctly, and make sure that the shoes you choose have plenty of room in the toe box so that your toes will not be crushed. Blisters between the toes can be quite painful.
- 2Lace your shoes correctly. Be careful not to pull your laces extremely tight. Instead, pull them snug, working from the bottom of the tongue of the shoe to the top. When you have your laces tightened, arch your foot to stretch them open a little bit and then tie them.
- 3Don't skimp on socks. If you're a serious runner, you need serious running socks. Look for synthetic socks that are made to wick moisture from your feet. Your sock should be smooth, seamless and formfitting (anatomically shaped) so that they will not bunch up and cause a blister.
TIP: Wearing two pairs of light, thin, formfitting socks is a good way to prevent blisters. Any friction will be between the two pairs of socks and not on your skin.
- 4Lubricate your feet. If you have problem areas on your feet that you know will tend to blister, use a lubricant such as petroleum jelly to minimize friction on those areas.
- 5Pad your problem areas. Areas such as your heel, a bunion or the balls of your feet may be especially prone to blistering. Give these areas extra protection with pads and/or athletic tape. If you wrap your foot with tape, be careful not to make it too tight as this may interfere with your blood circulation.
- 6Value your calluses. There’s a good reason why your feet develop calluses as you run. Calluses are there to protect your feet. Don't remove them with a pumice stone or other implement. Instead, just moisturize your feet regularly and take care of your calluses. Only trim away bits of dead skin that might get caught in your socks and causes injury.
How Can You Treat Blisters?
If you get a blister on your foot while you're running, you'll want to do something to stop the pain. You may be tempted to burst the blister and cover it, but doctors recommend that you simply cover it with a Band-Aid or a pad and tape to prevent further damage and lessen the pain.
If you're running in a marathon or other organized race, there will be medical stations where you can and should stop to get professional attention.
Breaking blisters open can allow infection to develop. If left alone and kept safely covered, the blister may break open on its own. Alternately, the swelling will simply lessen and the blister will disappear in a few days.
If you must break open a blister, you should use a sterilized needle to make a small hole and allow the fluid inside to drain out. You can sterilize a needle with fire or with rubbing alcohol, or if you have the time and the equipment you can boil it for five minutes.
Be sure to clean the blister with alcohol before piercing it with the needle. After breaking open and draining the blister, clean the entire area with rubbing alcohol. Apply an antiseptic cream and cover it with a Band-Aid or similar wrapping.
Be sure to change the dressing every day and keep the recovering blister clean. Watch it carefully, and if you see any signs of infection (e.g. redness, swelling or pus) you must see your doctor.
Note that if you have diabetes, you should never burst a blister. You must see your doctor for any foot injury to avoid life-threatening complications.