The Best Ways to Prevent and Deal With Blisters
You've finally mustered the willpower to go on a run or do that pilates class your friend keeps telling you about — only to end the class with a big fat blister on your feet. Blisters can be frustrating at best and downright painful at worst, and there's a whole lot of things that can make them more irritable than they need to be. Through trial and error many people who regularly exercise have figured out how to avoid them. But first, it's important to understand exactly what a blister is and how it is caused.
As podiatrist Velimir Petkov tells Allure, blisters are small pockets full of body fluid and when it comes to those that occur as a result of physical activity, they're most often caused by friction. "Wearing shoes that are too tight or the wrong socks can also cause them," Petkov says. "A lot of runners get them especially when running in hot and humid conditions." While a bad blister can certainly ruin a good workout, they're actually our bodies' way of cushioning and healing damaged skin, Petkov explains.
Blair Murphy, a dermatologist in New York City, explains that blisters can also occur from "burning, freezing or inflammation including that from an infection or underlying blistering disorder," but in most cases, they will heal within a week or so.
If you're prone to blisters, here are what the experts say about healing them and preventing them from forming in the first place.
All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Petkov's number-one suggestion for avoiding blisters (specifically the super common type that pop up on feet) is to focus on footwear — and that includes socks. Petkov suggests buying some moisture-wicking socks for exercise.
Ali Cook Jackson, a professional trainer and owner of Never Give Up Training in Philadelphia, agrees that having the right socks is key to avoiding painful blisters. Cook Jackson tells Allure that she finds non-cotton running socks to be the best.
Of course, properly fitting, comfortable shoes are another big key to avoiding blisters. One way to make sure you find the perfect exercise shoe, according to Petkov, is to shop for shoes at a particular time of day.
"I always recommend that you shop for shoes in the afternoon, as our feet swell up during the day," Petkov says. And if you have shoes that are constantly rubbing against certain parts of your feet uncomfortably? Get rid of them.
When it comes to keeping your feet comfortable and healthy during a workout, avoiding moisture is key. Moisture-wicking socks can certainly help, but if you want an extra layer of protection, try Cook Jackson's method:
"Put baby powder in socks before a run," Cook Jackson tells Allure, explaining that the powder will soak up any extra moisture.
A heavy weightlifting session can result in blisters, too. But Rhys Athayde, founding trainer of New York City's Dogpound, says there are a few simple strategies to help you avoid pesky blisters on your palms or fingers.
"Hand placement on the weights is an easy way to avoid blisters," Athayde tells Allure, explaining that adjusting your grip so that the stress is not only on your palms is often helpful. "Wearing chalk or weightlifting gloves are another easy way to avoid blisters in the gym. It makes it easier to hold the weight and doesn't rip up your hands."
If you can't find the time to switch up your shoes or socks before working out, professional soccer player Kelley O'Hara of the Utah Royals suggests applying an anti-friction lotion or medical tape on any "hot spots" to avoid aggravating the area as much as possible.
Not sure where to find the best lube (that isn't, well, actual lube)? Based on reviews on Amazon, Cramer's Skin Lube seems to be the go-to choice for athletes.
You may have heard that removing calluses during a pedicure is a big no-no when it comes to preventing blisters. However, when we asked Murphy about calluses, she explained it's a little more complicated than that.
"It is a common misconception that calluses prevent blisters. A callus is a thickening of the outermost layer of skin. While this thickening can prevent some types of damage, like a scratch or abrasion, to the underlying skin it does not necessarily protect against blister formation," Murphy says. "In fact, blisters that develop under a callus may be more painful and harder to treat. If you are prone to blisters on your feet, it is advisable to remove calluses as they cannot be relied on to prevent blisters."
Instead, Murphy suggests some of the above methods for preventing blisters, like trying different shoes and wearing moisture-wicking socks, or using blister cushions.
If you do end up with a blister, Petkov says blister pads, padded bandages, and moleskin are best to not only prevent more blisters but protect the ones you may already have as well.
The Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Kit is less than $10 and includes blister pads in a variety of sizes. If you're blister-prone, it may be worth adding it to your workout bag or medicine cabinet.
Murphy recommends hydrocolloid blister bandages, which can help to cushion the area and keep germs away as the skin heals.
"I find that they are very underutilized and can make a world of difference," Murphy says. "Another option is a donut-like bandage or moleskin that offers pressure from the injured tissue to the surrounding healthy skin."
If there's one thing experts will tell you about blisters, it's this: Do not pop them. It will not only make them more painful, but also more prone to infection, as Petkov explains. And if one does happen to pop on its own after a workout or run, be careful about how you treat it afterward.
"Apply antibiotic cream if available and cover it with a bandage," Petkov says. "Monitor regularly for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, and bloody or yellow discharge. Do not peel newly forming skin."
Murphy echoes Petkov, saying, "it is essential to keep the area clean to reduce your risk of infection." She recommends washing the area daily with soap and water, and applying an antibiotic lotion twice a day until the underlying skin is healed.
Who among us hasn't popped a blister a time or two? It's just too tempting. But it's always better that you seek professional assistance before taking things into your own hands.
"The best thing is to see a medical professional who can open the blister in a sterile manner that will reduce the inherent risk of infection," Murphy says. "The affected area will be cleaned and a sterile instrument, usually a sterile blade or needle will be used to puncture the blister at its base to release the trapped fluid. The roof of the blister will generally be left in place to act as a bandage."
Once you've popped a blister (whether by accident or not), this doesn't mean it's time to hit the gym. In fact, it might mean you should avoid it altogether — especially if it's a blister on your hands, which will be touching a lot of equipment and surfaces.
"If you have very bad blisters or one of them rips, stop working out," Athayde says. "Gyms aren't the cleanest of places, so it's very important for it to heal over or you risk infection."
Yes, blisters suck. And yes, sometimes they're inevitable — but not all the time. So stock up on skin lube, moisture-wicking socks, or baby powder (or, hey, why not all of the above?), and you may just end up saving yourself a lot of pain. And as tempting as it is, remember: Do not pop them.
Source: Read Full Article