New shoes? Sign me up. The blisters that come when you break them in? No thanks! These pesky little (or sometimes big) bumps that bubble up on your heels, ankles and sides of your feet are caused by outer layers of skin rubbing together, thanks to a process known as friction. An air pocket forms as the skin separates, and it can sometimes become filled with fluid–yuck. Often, blisters form when a new or poorly fitted pair of shoes are worn, but they can also happen as a result of excess moisture (i.e. you didn’t wear absorbent-enough socks).
Getting a blister is not only painful, but it can really interfere with your workouts. To keep them from happening, or to treat one if you fall victim, try these tips:
Choose the right socks
No-show, below-the-ankle socks are cute and stylish, but they’re best worn with shoes that you’ve broken in already. If you’re wearing a new pair of shoes, choose nylon or wicking socks, as they’ll help to pull away moisture and allow your feet to breathe. Cotton socks may seem comfortable, but when exercising, they soak up sweat and loosen, rubbing against your feet and contributing to blister formation. The goal is to find a sock that prevents moisture, supports the foot and minimizes friction.
Try foot powder
Using a foot powder or a cream is a good way to prevent friction that leads to blisters. Simply sprinkle a small amount of a natural powder into your socks before slipping them on. You might also apply petroleum jelly to keep a barrier between your foot and shoe. Only use a little, though—you don’t t want your feet slipping around!
Wear proper-fitting shoes
The most important item in your workout wardrobe is your shoes. Take the time to visit a specialty store to have a professional look at your foot and evaluate the best type of shoe for your exercise needs. Remember to go shoe shopping near the end of the day when your feet may be a little swollen (feet tend to swell when exercising and getting warm). Invest in a good pair—the support and comfort are worth it.
Caring for blisters
Leave it alone!
It is best to just leave a blister alone as long as possible so it can heal itself. Do not poke or touch it, or you run the risk of developing an infection. To protect your skin, cover bigger blisters with a large blister bandage and smaller blisters with an ordinary-sized bandage. At night, remove the bandage to allow your skin to breathe.
If it pops
If a blister does break on its own, it’s time for a little first aid. First, wash your hands well. Pat the blister with a cotton ball or gauze pad to soak up any fluid that has drained. Next, apply an antibiotic ointment, then cover the blister with another bandage (or use gauze and tape for bigger blisters). This dressing should be changed every few days, or more often, if needed.