You’ve finally summoned the courage to go for a run or attend that pilates class your friend keeps recommending, only to emerge from the session with a large blister on your feet. Blisters can be aggravating at best and excruciatingly painful at worst, and there are a variety of factors that can make them unpleasant. Many people who frequently exercise have figured out how to prevent them through trial and error. But first, it’s critical to comprehend what a blister is and how it develops.
Blisters, according to podiatrist Velimir Petkov, are little pockets full of bodily fluid that are most commonly generated by friction when they arise as a result of physical activity. “They can also be caused by wearing excessively tight shoes or the improper socks,” Petkov notes. “They affect a lot of runners, especially those who run in hot and humid weather.” While a severe blister can ruin a good workout, Petkov explains that blisters are our body’ way of cushioning and repairing injured skin.
Blisters can be caused by “burning, freezing, or inflammation, including that from an infection or underlying blistering disorder,” according to Blair Murphy, a dermatologist in New York City, but they usually heal within a week or so.
If you’re prone to blisters, here’s how to treat them and prevent them from forming in the first place, according to the experts.
Socks that wick moisture
Petkov’s top tip for avoiding blisters (especially the highly prevalent type that appear on feet) is to pay attention to your footwear, which includes socks. For exercising, Petkov recommends purchasing moisture-wicking socks.
Ali Cook Jackson, a professional trainer and the owner of Never Give Up Training in Philadelphia, feels that the appropriate socks are essential for avoiding severe blisters. Cook Jackson tells Allure that she prefers running socks that aren’t made of cotton.
In the afternoon, go shoe shopping
Blisters can also be avoided by wearing shoes that are correctly fitted and comfy. According to Petkov, shopping for shoes at a specific time of day is one approach to ensure you locate the appropriate exercise shoe.
“I always advocate going shoe shopping in the afternoon because our feet swell over the day,” adds Petkov. What if your shoes are continuously pressing painfully against certain portions of your feet? Take them out.
Before a run, apply baby powder on your feet.
Avoiding dampness is essential for keeping your feet pleasant and healthy during an exercise. Moisture-wicking socks can surely help, but try Cook Jackson’s solution for an extra layer of protection:
Cook Jackson tells Allure, “Put baby powder in your socks before a run.” The powder will absorb any excess moisture.
Be Aware of Hand Positioning on Weights
Blisters can also be caused by hard weightlifting. However, Rhys Athayde, the founder of Dogpound in New York City, believes there are a few simple techniques to avoid blisters on your palms or fingers.
“Adjusting your grip so that the stress isn’t solely on your palms is often helpful,” Athayde tells Allure. “Another simple approach to avoid blisters in the gym is to use chalk or weightlifting gloves. It makes it easier to hold the weight and prevents your hands from becoming ripped up.”
Any hot spots should be covered with lubricants or medical tape.
If you don’t have time to change your shoes or socks before working out, professional soccer player Kelley O’Hara of the Utah Royals recommends using anti-friction lotion or medical tape on any “hot areas” to minimise aggravation.
Are you looking for the best lubricant (that isn’t genuine lube)? Cramer’s Skin Lube appears to be the go-to pick for athletes, according to Amazon reviews.
Reconsider Everything You’ve Heard About Calluses
You might have heard that eliminating calluses during a pedicure is a big no-no for blister prevention. When we asked Murphy about calluses, she replied that the situation is a little more nuanced.
“Blisters are prevented by calluses, contrary to popular belief. A callus is a thickening of the skin’s top layer. While this thickening can protect the underlying skin from some sorts of harm, such as a scratch or abrasion, it does not always protect against blister formation “Murphy asserts. “Blisters that form under a callus, on the other hand, may be more painful and difficult to heal. If your feet are prone to blisters, calluses should be removed because they cannot be relied on to avoid blisters.”
Instead, Murphy recommends testing different shoes and wearing moisture-wicking socks, as well as employing blister cushions, as techniques for preventing blisters.
Pads for Blisters
If you do get a blister, Petkov recommends using blister pads, padded bandages, and moleskin to not just avoid further blisters but also to protect the ones you already have.
Blister pads of various sizes are included in the Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Kit, which costs less than $10. If you’re prone to blisters, it’s worth keeping in your gym bag or medical cabinet.
Murphy suggests using hydrocolloid blister bandages to cushion the region and keep germs at bay as the skin heals.
“I believe they are underutilised and have the potential to make a significant difference,” Murphy adds. “A donut-like bandage or moleskin that applies pressure from the wounded tissue to the surrounding healthy skin is another option.”
If at all possible, avoid popping.
If there’s one thing experts agree on when it comes to blisters, it’s that you shouldn’t pop them. As Petkov adds, it will not only make them more painful, but also more susceptible to infection. And if one does pop on its own during a workout or run, be careful how you treat it afterwards.
“If antibiotic cream is available, use it and cover it with a bandage,” explains Petkov. “Check for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, and bloody or yellow discharge on a frequent basis. Newly formed skin should not be peeled.”
“It is crucial to keep the region clean to lower your chance of infection,” Murphy agrees with Petkov. She suggests bathing the affected area with soap and water twice a day and applying antibiotic lotion twice a day until the underlying skin heals.
But if you have to,
Who among us hasn’t had a blister pop now and then? It’s simply too appealing. However, you should always seek expert help before putting matters into your own hands.
“The best thing to do is visit a medical practitioner who can open the blister in a hygienic manner, reducing the danger of infection,” Murphy advises. “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 blister’s roof is usually left in place to serve as a bandage.”
If it pops, stay away from the gym.
It’s not time to hit the gym just because you’ve popped a blister (accidentally or not). In fact, you should probably avoid it altogether if you have a blister on your hands, which will be in contact with a lot of equipment and surfaces.
“Stop working out if you have very painful blisters or one of them rips,” Athayde advises. “Gyms aren’t always the cleanest of environments, so it’s critical that it heals properly or you risk infection.”
Blisters are unpleasant. Yes, they are unavoidable at times – but not always. So stock up on skin lube, moisture-wicking socks, or baby powder (or, hey, why not all of the above? ), and you might just save yourself a lot of discomfort.