Cause of blisters
Friction from clothes or shoes is the usual cause of blisters, the repeated rubbing on the skin causing friction burns. This friction causes the outer layer of skin to separate from the inner layers and the space between fills with fluid.
For athletes wearing in new shoes blisters are a common problem as well as with athletes or walkers who take part in long events such as marathons or long hill walks. Blisters do not need to be a part of sporting life and can be prevented.
How can an athlete prevent blisters?
- Wear correctly fitting shoes.
- Tape potential 'hot spots' by applying a protective second skin of plaster or tape.
- Ensure all seams on the inside of walking boots are flat. Take care of the boots, do not leave them on radiators or near heaters. This causes the leather to shrink and seams to protrude.
- Wet shoes, boots and socks will cause blisters far quicker than dry ones. Keep feet as dry as possible.
- Change socks as regularly as possible and use foot powder to help keep skin dry.
- A highly effective, short term measure is the use of petroleum jelly to cover the affected area. This should provide instant relief from pain but petroleum jelly melts with the heat from the foot and so becomes ineffective.
How to treat blisters
- Apply a second skin dressing or blister plaster to the blister to prevent further rubbing.
- Don't pop a blister! This carries a risk of infection.
- Most blisters will go of their own accord within a few days.
Blister products are available to help prevent blisters occurring - such as anti-blister sticks and lubricants, as well as blister plasters to protect the blister and prevent infections when they occur. A simple roll of zinc oxide tape is also effective as a blister prevention treatment. A strip (or two) is applied to areas where blisters occur to prevent friction between the shoe and skin. 1000 mile socks have a double layer which guarantees to prevent blisters occuring. The outer layer rubs against the boot / shoe, leaving the inner layer flat and still against the skin.