I feel like such a sissy when I get a blister but man they hurt! You try to get through a run but you find yourself limping. I remember when I was training for my first half marathon I went to my schools gym between classes to get a run in. I hopped on the tredmill and the first few strides I thought I was going down or flying off the machine. I swear it felt like my skin was ripping open. Yes dramatic I know, but man oh man my heel was in pain!
Being an athletic training student at the time I actually had a first aid kit on me (dork status I know) and was ready for a bloody site. Yet, instead when I took my shoe and sock off there was a quarter size blister instead of a massive laceration. That bad boy killed all day long. Whenever I took a step I got a unfriendly reminder about my blistered heel.
Heat, moisture and friction are the 3 components to what cause blisters. Anything that intensifies friction can start a blister. This could be a faster pace, poor fitted shoes, and even foot abnormalities such as bunions or hammer toes. Heat and moisture cause your feet to swell and therefore also add to more friction occurring. This is why some people only experience blisters on race day. You are running longer than normal, you have a good pace going and you are sweating much more.
So you have a blister. Wonderful. What can you do for it? First, you can just leave it alone. It is going to hurt to walk but it could potentially burst on its own. After that point you could clean it with rubbing alcohol or witch hazel, put ointment on it and cover it with a bandaid then air it out at night. If you are like me and can’t wait for that to occur you can drain it. Make sure if you drain your blister you are cleaning the needle before using it! Don’t put the needle through a flame to clean it. It can actually put carbon particles into your wound making it more irritated. So stick to alcohol for cleaning. Try puncturing the blister on a bottom corner (it should not hurt since you are inserting the needle into the bubble of the blister). Carefully remove the needle and apply pressure to the top of your blister to push out the fluid. You may need to make multiple puncture holes to get all the fluid out depending upon the size of your blister. Make sure to clean your wound after it is drained, cover it with ointment and a bandaid. You can do this for blood blisters as well. And if you like gross things this will be right up your alley for you to do.
Avoid puncturing small blisters. If there is little fluid inside the blister and you keep puncturing it you will just cause bleeding to occur and risk an infection. Try buying some moleskin, second skin, or purchase corn coverings. You can cut a hole in the moleskin and place the hole around the blister this way when you walk on it, it’ll disperse the impact around the blister instead of directly on it. Corn coverings do this also but with a little more padding for extra protection. Second skin will act more of a cushion and you will need to cover it with a bandaid to keep it in place.
**Also don’t pop blood blisters within or under toe nails. See a podiatrist if need me. And if you get to your blister and see that is has popped and the top layer of skin has peeled off make sure the wound is cleaned well and covered with ointment and a bandaid.
After experiencing blisters you are determined to never suffer from them again. To prevent blisters from forming make sure you wear moisture-wicking socks when running. Some people like thin socks others like thick or double up. That is completely up to you. Make sure your shoes fit. You do not want shoes to be too tight or too big. Normally in running shoes you go up a half of a size to give yourself some room when running but you do not want to go too big. If you are a sweater try putting powder on your feet. If you are someone who has dry skin try moisturizing before putting on your socks.
If all else fails this is the best quote of advice I have found regarding blisters..
“I’ve run seven marathons and an ultra, and have never had a blister,” says Larry Schatz of Collegeville, Pa. “My secret: live about a half-century and stay so active that your skin gets as tough as an old football.”
What do you do to prevent blisters?
Happy Running!! xx