Now that it's fall, you may find yourself heading outdoors to enjoy the cooler weather. Increased activity is great, but to make sure your extra exercise doesn't translate into painful blisters, check out our tips below.
Blisters: To Pop or Not to Pop...
That is the Question
By Kenny Cabe, ATCAthletic Trainer - St. Francis Sports Medicine
Blisters are a common problem in many sports and activities. They can occur in any activity - running walking, hiking, tennis, golf, basketball, or football. Basically, if you are moving, you can get a blister. They may be small, but they can cause huge
problems. I once had an NFL player comment, "I'll play with a broken bone, but I get a blister and I gotta shut it down!"
A blister occurs when the skin rubs against another surface resulting in friction. The friction results in a tear in the upper layer of skin (epidermis). A space will form between the layers, and fluid will begin seeping into the space, creating a bubble. The most common areas affected are the hands and feet. The outer layer of skin may or may not remain intact and thus will need to be treated differently. Prevention
The main way to prevent blisters is to reduce friction. This can be done by:
- Wearing properly fitting shoes. Always break in the shoes well prior to wearing them for the activity.
- Wearing socks, and wearing appropriate socks. Changing socks when the become wet or saturated.
- Foot powders and antiperspirants can decrease moisture and friction. For the hands - wear gloves when appropriate, and make sure they are broken in.
Treatment depends on if the skin is still intact. If the skin is broken, the area will need to be treated like an open wound. Infection is the enemy! If it is closed, leave it closed and allow the fluid to absorb.
- For a closed blister: Clean the area well in the event it does become an open wound. Use adhesive felt or a corn pad to pad the skin around the blister. You may need to place some hypoallergenic or cloth tape around the pad to help hold it in place during activity.
- For an open blister; treat it like an open wound: Clean the affected area using antibacterial or antimicrobial wound cleanser. Use alcohol to clean pedicure scissors, then remove any dead or torn skin. Place antibiotic ointment on the wound, then cover it with a band aid. Clean and redress the wound several times daily. A second option, rather than applying antibiotic ointment, is to apply betadine cleanser and baby power to dry the affected skin. With either option, the area should be padded and dressed prior to activity, and cleaned and redressed immediately after. Monitor the area for signs of infection, which are: pain, redness, streaking, and discolored drainage. If the affected area shows signs of infection or does not show any improvement within a few days, see a physician.
Prevention is the best medicine, but if and when blisters do arise, prompt and diligent care will get you back in action quickly and comfortably.
I'm Hurt. Now What?
You're just finishing your daily run and you feel something in your knee pop. Now what? When injuries strike, you just need to remember one number - 675-HURT. St. Francis Sports Medicine's 24/7 injury hotline puts you in touch with a health professional who can:
- Give advice for caring for your injury at home
- Provide call-ahead ER service if needed
- Get you on the fast-track to see an orthopedic physician
Calling 675-HURT will save you time - whether you go to the ER or make an appointment to see one of our expert physicians - and make sure you're put in touch with professionals who can give you the care you need. Learn more.
As you can see, October is a busy month for sporting events. We hope you'll stop by and visit us as you're out and about this month!
Finally, we are always on the lookout for information what will be useful to you. If there are any topics that you'd like us to address in future newsletters, please send us an email
The St. Francis Sports Medicine Team