Blister prevention


Blisters are quite common for anyone who regularly participates in sports. Most athletes just accept them as the price you pay to play, but there are measures to avoid them, or decrease the pain and risk of infection if you find you have one.

Causes of Blisters

Blisters form when the skin rubs against another surface, causing friction. First, a tear occurs within the upper layers of the skin forming a space between the layers while leaving the surface intact. Then fluid seeps into the space. Soles and palms are most commonly affected for several reasons. The hands and feet often rub against shoes, skates, rackets, or other equipment. Blister formation usually requires thick and rather immobile epidermis, as is found in these areas. In addition, blisters form more easily on moist skin than on dry or soaked skin, and warm conditions assist blister formation.


Treating Blisters

If you get a blister, the goal is to want to relieve pain, keep the blister from enlarging, and avoid infection. Signs of infection include pus draining from the blister, very red or warm skin around the blister, and red streaks leading away from the blister. Small, intact blisters that don't cause discomfort usually need no treatment. The best protection against infection is a blister's own skin. Larger or painful blisters that are intact should be drained without removing the skin. First clean the blister with rubbing alcohol or antibiotic soap and water. Then heat a straight pin or safety pin over a flame until the pin glows red, and allow it to cool before puncturing a small hole at the edge of the blister. Drain the fluid with gentle pressure, and then apply an antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin with polymeric B (double antibiotic ointment) or bacitracin alone. Avoid ointments that contain neomycin because they are more likely to cause an allergic reaction. Finally, cover the blister with a bandage. Change the dressing daily.

Prevention of Blisters

To prevent blisters, you need to minimize friction. For the feet, this begins with appropriate shoe and sock selection. Make sure your shoes are the right size and shape. Wear socks made from synthetic blends. Before you exercise, apply petroleum jelly or talcum power to reduce friction, if needed.

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