Monday, June 16, 2014

Running and Blisters Go Hand-In-Hand. Or, is that Foot-In-Foot? It Doesn't Have To Be That Way.

Why do you get blisters?  Blisters are not only painful, but very annoying because there really isn’t much of an option once you have a blister other than to let it heal before you start running again.  Blisters are caused by friction and in most cases are caused by your shoes or socks rubbing against your skin. 

Runners can get blisters during a race when they don’t have a history of blisters because of the increased pace or the increase in heat and moisture of a longer run, which intensifies friction making your feet swell.  Your body naturally responds to friction by producing fluid which builds up under the skin as a form of protection. 

Blister Prevention:

  1. Keeping your feet moisturized and soft by applying a moisturizer on your feet daily can help prevent friction, ultimately reducing the chance of getting a blister.
  2. There are several types of blister free socks available.  My favorite socks are Feetures and the Injinji (toe) socks.  The Feetures are more padded but the Injinji socks provide protection between my toes.  
  3. You can also double up your socks.   Wearing two pairs of socks causes the friction to occur between the socks, not between your socks and skin.  You might need to get a shoe that is a ½ size bigger to accommodate this method.   
  4. Another popular method of blister prevention is to apply a lubricant like Vaseline before you run.  Rungoo is a long lasting lubricant that has had good reviews for blister prevention as well.  You can get Rungoo on Amazon for around $10 plus tax and shipping. 
  5. Wearing shoes and socks that fit are key in the prevention of blisters.  Shoes that are too small will cause blisters under your toes and on the end of your toe nails.  You should have a thumbs width of space between your toes and the end of your toebox (inside end of your shoe).  Your socks should fit smoothly with no extra fabric at the toes or heals. 
Blister Treatment:

  1. If you have a large blister, it is okay to drain it.  If you do not drain the blister, it will hurt and will most likely puncture on its own.
  2. To drain the blister, wash your hands.  Get a needle and wipe it off with an alcohol swab to sterilize it.  Once you have punctured the blister, carefully drain the liquid by pushing near the hole.  Then cover the blister with a tight bandage to keep bacteria from getting in the wound.  Periodically take off the bandage and soak your foot in Epsom salt to draw out the fluid.  After soaking your foot, apply a fresh bandage.  You should keep a bandage on your blister until the skit tightens up again.
  3. If you have a small blister, keep it intact and do not drain the fluid.  The fluid is acting as a protective coating.  Get a pack of Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin and cut out a hole the size of the blister.  Place it over the blister and cover it with gauze.  The blister should dry out and heal on its own.
  4. If you have a blister under your nail, see a doctor.  Whatever you do, do not remove your nail as it could cause infection.

Note: Contrary to what you might have seen, holding a needle in a flame to sterilize it is not suggested.  You will get carbon particles under your skin, which could further irritate the blister.

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