A Runner's Guide to Preventing and Treating Blisters
Blisters are caused by friction between your skin and your shoes or socks. No matter how good a runner you are, it's very difficult to persevere when a blister strikes. Follow our advice for their prevention and treatment and stop the pesky blighters holding you back.
1. Be selective with your socks
Getting the right socks is rule number one when it comes to preventing blisters. Heat and moisture are both major culprits in causing friction, so you should opt for a pair which will minimise both. In the same way you wouldn't wear a cotton T-shirt for a long run, you should not be wearing cotton socks as they will soak up moisture and cause irritation. You can either go for nylon socks or wicking socks, both of which will reduce the friction caused by sweat.
Some running socks also have padded sections in blister-prone areas such as the heels and little toes. These provide great added protection, and can be purchased from most sports shops.
2. Get the right shoes
Running shoes are the single most importance piece of kit you will buy as a runner. For guidance on how to find the right pair for you, check out Running Shoes 101.
As you run, your feet will heat up, causing them to swell. This means it is important to purchase a pair of shoes with a little extra room to avoid friction from too-tight shoes. The way that you lace your shoes can also make a huge difference; there are many different ways you can lace your shoes and you may find that a less traditional lacing style will suit you better. Check out different ways this can be done here.
3. Slap on the vaseline
Following the steps above should prevent blisters in most cases. However, if you find that you are frequently getting blisters in the same areas, you may need to try lubricating the area. Putting a layer of vaseline on your problem areas before you head out on a run is a great way to reduce friction between your skin and your sock. There are multiple different types of powders and creams you can buy, but try the cheap and cheerful choice first, and move onto more sophisticated options if the problem persists.
No matter how hard you try, you may still get the occasional blisters while training. If you do get a blister, it's important not to simply stick a plaster on and forget about it.; you may even make the problem worse by causing an infection. If a blister is small, it's best to leave it alone. If a blister is large, follow the directions below.
Wash your hands and the area surrounding your blister thoroughly with antibacterial soap. Take a small needle and sterilise it by rubbing it with alcohol. Don't put the needle in a flame, as this may cause carbon particles to get inside your blister and irritate it further.
2. Puncture and drain
Using your sterilised needle, carefully make a small puncture in the skin, close to the edge of your blister. Gently press and soak up the liquid on a clean piece of cotton or tissue.
3. Cover and wait
Once all the liquid has been drained, cover the blister with a tight bandage to prevent bacteria from getting into the wound. Leave it for 2-3 days and take the bandage off. If the skin has dried out and the area healed, you are good to go. If the blister remains, repeat the process until it is healed.