Typically, a blog post like this will begin with some fancy definition taken out of a textbook or scientific journal that uses big words to attempt to explain what a blister is. This is NOT that kind of blog. I don’t like fancy. I like to be practical, so let’s keep it simple and go straight to the point.
A blister is the forming of a bubble on your skin that fills with fluid. It hurts, it’s annoying, and can be very painful. That’s it. I’m sure you’ve had one before. Ahhh, the agony. If you are anything like me, you might have found yourself helpless wondering why something so seemingly insignificant could cause you so much pain, sometimes rendering you worthless to walk, let alone run or train. I get it. I feel your pain.
Blisters are caused by friction. Simple as that. Friction over the skin which causes redness and irritation, sometimes breaking the skin and creating bubbles or causing the area to bleed.
New cleats, shoes, or sneakers need to be broken into and adjusted to your foot. They are usually rigid and need some time to add flexibility to the material of the shoe and allow the foot to comfortably move. Oftentimes this will rub against the skin, typically on the back of the heel, causing redness and irritation due to the constant friction.
Ok, so the WHY blisters happen might not have come as a surprise to you (I get it), so what can you do to prevent them from happening saving you endless torture and agony?
Don’t wear brand new cleats or sneakers to your first day of practice. I know, this sounds almost too simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people do this and pay for it later.
It is recommended that you wear your new kicks about a week prior to officially starting your training so that your feet can get used to them.
Wear double socks or thick socks for proper fit so that you minimize the space inside the shoe, preventing extra friction.
Apply talc or baby powder to your feet prior to putting on your socks to reduce moisture.
*You can also rub vaseline/skin lube or ‘runner’s stick/glide’ like this one: BlisterZone Blister Prevention Stick, 0.8 oz. commonly used by marathon runners and triathletes before races.
This makes the area of the skin glide, which also reduces the severity of dry friction which is what causes the skin to blister.
You can also apply a strip of moleskin or athletic tape (for example on the back of the heel) if the back of your shoes are uncomfortable or feel too tight. This just adds another barrier or layer between the shoe and your skin.
Typically, some blisters will fill up with a lot of fluid and look like bubbles. I am of the belief that if they bother you, it is ok to pop and drain them. However, if and when you do this, it is NOT a good idea to tear the skin off. Most people usually pop their blisters and then tear off all the skin as well, which exposes the raw, more sensitive skin underneath, making it even more painful. Don’t do that.
So my advice is to take a needle (make sure you clean it first with rubbing alcohol) and make a small hole in the blister to pop it. The hole does not need to be too big, just enough for the fluid to be pushed out through it.
Then, using gauze or paper towel or a tissue, take your finger and gently push on the fluid and move it towards the exit and wipe it and absorb it all.
Try to get most or all of the fluid out at once.
When you have taken out as much fluid as you could, use an alcohol pad to gently wipe the area to clean it.
If you are going to train right after this, cover the area with a bandaid or tape.
[ Watch video version below]
Here is a list of my recommended materials:
If you are not training right away, keep it open so it has a chance to dry. Try to wear sandals, but also keep the area as clean as possible, periodically wiping it with alcohol pads or antiseptic to keep the blister spot dirt and bacteria-free.
Blood blisters are handled the same way as normal ones.
I would only point out that perhaps the only difference would be to be more aware of keeping the area clean of bacteria and dirt, using alcohol pads or an antiseptic.