Hands up who has been the victim of the dreaded blister? Who has come home from a run or a hike with a shoe full of blood? And who has spent a fortune on ‘blister-proof’ socks that have proved as useful as a chocolate fireguard?
A few years ago I sported a very pretty (albeit painful) heart-shaped blister that formed during a busy charity event for, of all things, the British Heart Foundation. The irony was not lost on me!
Blisters are as dependable as your monthly gas bill. If you’re on your feet or work with your hands for long stretches you’re guaranteed to develop them on a fairly regular basis. Even taking up a fun hobby, like playing the guitar, can result in nasty blisters because you’re subjecting your skin to friction it’s never before experienced.
Most of us though will suffer from blisters after a long walk or run. That first exciting day on a city break stomping the pavements in fashionable plimsolls can leave you hobbling in agony for the remainder of your long weekend. Marathon data shows that up to 40% of runners will visit the medical tent to have their blisters treated during a race. Blisters are unavoidable.
Before we address the causes of these painful little blighters, let’s discuss what blisters actually ARE. In simple terms, a blister forms to protect the skin from damage. This little balloon of pain is filled with pus, blood or serum as a means of cushioning the damaged skin beneath.
Fairly self-explanatory, really!
We once blamed them on super heated and moist conditions, with the addition of added friction just for the fun of it. This still applies to an extent but the current school of thought focuses on the combination of friction and repetitive movement (i.e distance running, walking etc). This duo results in painful blistered feet.
Prevention is always better than cure.
So, how can we lessen/prevent the blister effect? Here are some very simple, cost-effective steps we can all take to avoid the agony:
● Wear supportive comfortable footwear
● Keep your feet dry and clean and carry a spare pair of (dry and clean) socks!
● Wear breathable socks but don’t spend a fortune.
● Keep hydrated
● Applying lubricant (like petroleum jelly) to the feet can prevent friction between skin and fabric
● If you have an area more prone to rubbing, cover it! Use blister plasters or sports tape.
● If you feel a rub, stop and re-adjust!
● That odd second shoelace hole on your trainers is there for a reason - use it and your trainer will be more firmly secured to your foot, helping you avoid a potential blister situation.
It’s incredibly satisfying to pop a blister but only do so if absolutely necessary. And if it’s absolutely necessary please go to a professional who will lance it with sterile equipment. A DIY job might sound irresistible but infected toes will only add to your woes!
Let your blister heal by staying off your feet for a couple of days. It might be irritating and you’ll no doubt get a bit antsy but your tootsies will thank you for it.