Your Burning Blister Questions Answered
Why Do Blisters Occur?
Athletic blister formations result when body tissue develops excessive heat due to friction and the body’s natural defense mechanism is to create a “water bubble” to absorb the heat and save the tissue.
Where Do Blisters Commonly Develop?Blisters can form anywhere there is a sustained amount of friction, typically feet, toes, heels and the balls of the feet in runners, basketball players, or other athletes that run as part of the game. People who use their hands are prone to blister formation between the thumb and forefinger where an implement of some sort is held such as a bat, rake or paint brush.
Obviously the best way to treat a blister is to prevent it; be aware of that “hot spot” you are feeling before the need for localized fluid collection into a bubble results.
Are you Susceptible to Blisters?
Certain foot formations may make you more susceptible to blisters.
- Pes cavus or high arched athletes spin and spend time on the balls of their feet. Typically a blister will form on the plantar (bottom) side of the big toe knuckle.
- Hammer toes project upward and may rub against the toe box of the shoe.
Your Shoes May Cause BlistersIn addition, wearing shoes that are too narrow, too stiff, too short, not broken in gradually or too new and used too quickly may be problematic.
Treating BlistersThere are some basic techniques to treat blisters once they become “hot spots” or when they develop a bubble and before the skin tears open.
- Do not open a closed blister; the intact skin is a barrier against infection. Lubricate, protect the area, find the cause of the blister and make adjustments.
- For foot blisters: apply foam cushions/pads, petroleum jelly, wear a thin pair of socks under your regular socks, keep your feet dry, and wear fresh, dry socks.
- For hand blisters: wear gloves, lighten grip pressure.
- For blisters on other body parts: find the cause of the friction; typically friction from a repetitive movement.
When to Call a ProfessionalAny unusual signs of redness, pus, excessive pain or disability should be seen by your physician or podiatrist. Besides being annoying, blisters can be debilitating and if ignored may become infected.
Over-the-Counter Blister Prevention/Treatment Products That WorkThere are many products available to prevent and/or reduce the presence and discomfort of blisters at www.esportshealth.com.
Here are a few tried and true products:
- Heel Pads >>
- Sore Spot Blister and Skin Bandages >>
- Ribbed Toe/Finger caps >>
- Blister Foam >>
- Blister Prevention Powder >>
- New-Skin Liquid Bandage >>
- Neosporin >>
Phil Hossler, ATC has been an athletic trainer on the scholastic, collegiate and Olympic levels. He has authored 4 books and numerous articles and served as an officer in state and regional athletic training associations for 20 years. He is a member of four halls of fame including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s.