Picture this, it’s January, you’ve just managed to make it through Christmas without completely ballooning to unfathomable proportions, and now it’s time to hit the fitness trail again.
Just as you set out on that first jog, you feel a slight rubbing of the heel. “It’ll be fine, it’s only a short run” you think to yourself.
Then, not long later, the rubbing turns to a sharp pain, and by time you’ve made it home and managed whip your socks off, one hell of a blister has formed and you’ve got a mighty sore heel.
If you’ve been here or somewhere similar, you’re not alone. Runners, Footballers and Tennis players are just some examples of sportspeople who can suffer blisters, be it recreational level or all the way up at elite level. In fact, our research shows up to 40% of marathon runners regularly suffer from blisters….so what are they, exactly?
Blisters are a mechanism used by the body to protect damaged skin, they can be filled with serum, plasma, blood or pus depending on how and when they came about.
Typically blisters will be caused by friction, burning, freezing, chemical exposure or infection. Usually though, the garden variety blister is due to friction caused by activities like walking, running or performing any repetitive motion.
The bubble of the blister is formed from the epidermis, the upper most layer of the skin. The skins purpose is to protect and cushion the layers below.
When the friction occurs, the upper most layer separates and the gap is filled with, usually, clear fluid. This allows the skin below room to heal.
The hands and feet are the most susceptible parts of the body to blistering, and they can be caused by everyday activities as well as during exercise.
Think of that time you tried to start playing guitar and your thumb started hurting, if you’d have kept at it you would have had a blister on your hands, literally. The same can go for excessive gaming, digging with a shovel and so on.
Their darker cousin, blood blisters, are slightly different in that they’re usually the result of blood vessels bursting in the skin due to the skin being pinched, rather than the usual cause of friction for a regular blister.
Now that we know what they are, how do we stop them popping up when we least need it? Well, as ever, prevention is always better than cure.
If we stop the blister from forming in the first place, then there’s never any need for treatment, and importantly, no pain or discomfort develops.
The best way to prevent a blister from forming on somewhere like the feet is to wear proper footwear that fits you and doesn’t cause any friction. If that doesn’t work and there’s still areas of friction, an insole could provide the extra padding you need.
Always try to keep your feet as dry as possible. We know, that’s not always possible when exercising! But luckily we have a couple of things up our sleeve. Such as…
Friction Socks are a great way to prevent the formation of blisters in the first place.
The 1000 Mile Ultimate Trainer Liner Socks are high quality blister prevention trainer liners for performance enhancement, designed to sit below the shoe line.
Unique double-layer construction gives outstanding comfort with no blisters (backed up by a manufacturer’s BLISTER FREE GUARANTEE) and no wear-out within 1000 miles of use.
The Tactel inner layer stays with the foot, wicking away moisture to keep the feet dry, whilst the outer layer moves with the shoe. The lack of friction between the layers helps prevent blisters and reduces wear.
Also, the combination of fibres and top venting maintain a comfortable temperature for the foot.
Another good method of protection is some gel or cream to lubricate the foot, such as the Sidas Anti-Friction Cream.
The cream prepares the skin with a protective film that increases the elasticity, tone and defence capabilities of the skin while nourishing and moisturising it.
It protects the skin from the irritating friction of skin against skin, skin against equipment and skin against fabric. Meaning it prevents blisters and soothes chafing and redness to ensure comfort throughout your chosen activity.
Of course, we don’t always have the foresight to plan ahead and buy what we need, and even if we do, we can still get unlucky. So how exactly do we treat a blister if we do happen to get one?
Unless completely necessary, don’t pop it! Only do so if it is large, painful, or likely to be irritated further. And if you do, remember to refer to a qualified medical professional to lance it with a sterile implement.
This can relieve the pressure and pain. Once a blister has been lanced it is imperative to keep the area meticulously clean in order to prevent infection. As we’ve said, prevention is better than cure.
If you do need to lance it yourself, always use a sterilised needle and wash your hands thoroughly before doing so. Also remember to leave the stretched/broken skin in place, as this will help the wound heal.
Remember also to watch out for signs that your blister may be infected, such as when lancing if the fluid is white or yellow due to pus. Also watch out for red or ‘warm’ skin around the area or red streaks leading away from the blister, as these could also be signs of infection.
One of the best ways to treat (or prevent) blisters is by using blister patches such as the Compeed Blister Patches.
Compeed Blister Patches help relieve the pain and discomfort of blisters. Unlike many similar products, this patch stays in place and can provide relief for professional and recreational athletes alike.
To use all you have to do is apply the patch before activity for the prevention of blisters or to relieve friction on a blister that has already formed. Simply Hand-warm the Compeed patches for one minute before and after application and you’re ready to go.
It stays in place for several days to provide protection and aid healing and also comes in packs for specific area such as the toes, heel or underfoot. Or, you can pick up a mixed pack and be better covered than ever before!