How to prevent and treat blisters

Blisters are common complaint for anyone who regularly participates in sports. There are measures you can take to avoid them, or decrease the pain and risk of infection if you get one.

Blisters normally develop due to friction on the skin.Friction can cause the top layer of the skin to separate from the second layer, and fluid fills between the space.

Blisters are most common on the heels, soles of the feet, and palms of the hands because they rub against shoes, socks or handheld equipment.

How to prevent blisters

The best way to prevent blisters is to minimise friction on the skin. Make sure that all footwear fits correctly. Runners often tape their toes or heels to prevent blisters forming during a run. Plasters or a small strip of duct tape can be used for this purpose. Duct tape is often favoured by athletes because it stays in place for longer and its shiny surface greatly diminishes any friction.

If you are prone to blisters, it's a good idea to carry around a small packet of plasters. Simply slip one on to a trouble area if you feel friction or discomfort. Early warning signs include inflamed skin that feels hot.

Keep your feet as dry as possible and change your socks if you feel a blister might be developing on your feet.

Another method that helps to reduce friction is to apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly to the problem spot. However this will probably need to be reapplied frequently - especially if applied under socks. The same can be said for talcum powder.

How to treat blisters

If you get a blister, your main concern should be preventing infection. Small blisters are best left alone if they are not causing much discomfort. If you need to drain a blister, cleanse the area carefully and use a sterile needle to prick a small hole at the side of the blister. Then clean again and leave to heal naturally.

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