Blisters on feet are the bain of many runners exercise routine. For such a simple little injury, they can cause a lot of problems for some people.
What are blisters?
Blisters are small sacks of fluid which build up between two layers of skin. The reason for this fluid build up is usually friction, although burns can also cause a blister. Repeated rubbing of something over the skin (such as part of your shoes or socks) causes damage to the top layers and this build up of fluid is an inflammatory response designed to protect the skin underneath and allow it to heal.
Blisters usually develop over a relatively short period. You can usually feel the part of the foot developing a blister getting sore as you run. The blister may have formed by the time you finish your run, or the area may just appear red and sore and the blister will develop shortly after. Blisters basically look like little white bubbles of fluid on the skin. The surrounding area is usually red and they are sore to touch.
Treating Blisters on the Feet
Never pop a blister! The whole point of a blister is to allow the skin underneath to heal and to protect it from infection. Popping a blister leaves you wide open to getting an infection. Simply allow the blister to heal on it’s own. Large or painful ones may benefit from being protected with a plaster or padding to stop them rubbing.
Keep an eye on the blister to make sure it doesn’t become infected. If it does, it will look yellowy green in colour, the skin around the area will be red, sore and warm to touch and red streaks may be visible leading away from the blister. If you suspect it may be infected, see your Doctor asap for anti-biotics.
As with most injuries, prevention is the best cure! if you find you are prone to blisters there are many ways you can try to prevent them. Some will work better for some people than others.
- Blister socks – specialist blister socks usually have a double layer of material which means the inner layer lies still against your skin, whilst the other layer moves with your footwear. 1000 mile do a ‘blister free guarantee!’
- Taping – some people use zinc oxide tape on their feet to cover the areas where they are prone to getting blisters. This stops the shoes from rubbing and is a very cheap but effective way of preventing them.
- Shoe fit – make sure your running shoes fit properly. Get them checked at a running shop. Running shoes tend to be half a size bigger than your normal footwear to allow for more movement.
- Vaseline – or some other forms of lubricant can be applied to the feet to help reduce friction. Specialist blister sticks are available.
- Blister plasters – companys such as Compeed make blister plasters which can be applied as prevention or treatment.
- Steady build up – running is hard on the feet and so the friction can be a problem at first, but most people get used to this after a while as the skin toughens up. Blisters when you first start running may mean you are doing too much too soon.