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Running Blisters: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention and Cure

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How do you feel training while the excruciating pain from the blister you acquired recently keeps you pinching time and again? Running blisters are one of the most common issues from friction that runners face while training rigorously.

While new shoes and coarse socks can act as enhancers in creating blisters around your ankle and the surrounding area, even older gears can cause blisters from running. Blisters are not trivial and if not treated properly, they can turn into a mess and stop you from running altogether.

While it is better to take advance precautions before you get blisters, sometimes they are inevitable and that is why we are here to help.

First, we will discuss how these annoyingly painful foot blisters from running occur and then one by one we will guide you through the process with which you can treat them and even stop them from creating menace in your running career.

What are Running Blisters

The gross looking bubbly blisters from running are the result of the continuous friction with the shoe or socks against the outer layer of the skin of your feet.

Continuous frictions finally make the outer layer of skin (epidermis) detach from the underlying layer (dermis) and the gap or micro-tear between them is filled with fluids from “shear” or excessive stretching of soft tissues of the skin.

Yes, the gross it sounds, it is painful like hell.

how running blisters occur
How running blisters occur

What happens if Running Blisters are Pushed too far

We don’t mean to scare you but if you keep on running with blisters, they can swell up more, get infected by bacteria and be filled with pus. Localized pains around the affected area and the Partial Thickness Burn are severe effects.  

Now, if the running blisters rupture, apart from the agonizing inflammation there is a high risk of having Secondary Impetigo from bacterial infection or Cellulitis and even in serious cases, sepsis in blood vessels and tissues.

running with blisters
Running can swell up the blister 

Obviously, you don’t want such complicated medical terminology to enter into your life.

So why not have a look at what causes blisters while running?

After that, we can revise the treatment methods.

How Foot Blisters occur

The “shear” that we mentioned above, can be caused by the following things and create foot blister from running.

what causes running blisters
Know the causes of running blisters
  • Sensitive Skin

While some of us have normal skin, some people are prone to acquire skin diseases and blisters as their skin is sensitive to external hazards. Running blister is not an exception.

  • Overexertion and movement

If you are a fitness fanatic and in such fanaticism forget that the endurance power of your body is limited, you are sure to face running blisters at some time of your training. Too much movement of the bones creates shear on your skin.

Overexertion can cause blisters
  • Friction

The most common relation between new running shoe and blisters is Friction. Friction between the insole of your shoe or the fabric of your sock and the outer skin of your foot while you run causes over-stretching of the epidermis and soft tissues of your feet. The movement of your bones back and forth thus causes shears and finally blisters.

  • Diabetes

The people having Diabetes are prone to Diabetic Blisters or Bullosis Diabeticorum. Diabetic Neuropathy increases the chance of getting foot blisters from running.

Stages of Running Blisters

stages of running blisters
Understand the Blisters

How to avoid Foot Blisters

The question might have popped up in your mind a number of times – how do runners prevent blisters?

Now we will discuss preventing blisters even before they appear.

After all, prevention is better than cure.

1. Cushioning the Shoes

One of the best ways to prevent blisters while running is to make the shoes comfortable. You can choose a running shoe with Sorbothane insoles or use silicon gels under your feet to prevent blisters from forming.

Read about Shoe Insoles - A Quick Guide for Your Feet: Choose Right!

2. Moisturizing the Feet  

The seasoned runners put great emphasis on moistening the feet to prevent blisters on the bottom of feet. The skin of our feet is coarser than the other parts of our body as they are in contact of the earth most of the time.

REMEMBER: Rough skin is prone to running blisters.  

So, you can apply foot creams, lotions, deodorants (not antiperspirants), soft powders and even petroleum jelly to make the skin surface smooth.

However, this is not a full-proof method of prevention as too much lubricant causes reverse action i.e. blackened toenails or bruises. It is necessary to remember that you need a basic friction to run smoothly, without it your feet will slip and slide too much and make you lose balance.

3. Add Tapes

Sports tapes with padding will help you preventing excessive friction, thus you don’t have to worry about running blisters on side of the big toe or on ankles. Look for a water-resistant tape that will remain intact even while you are drenched.

Sports tapes with padding to reduce excessive friction
Sports tapes with padding to reduce excessive friction

4. Good Socks

Stretchable, breathable and sweat-wicking blister free running socks with nylon or blended wool will give you best support against running blisters. You can also wear two pairs of socks to prevent friction.

Wet feet are also sensitive to chaffing and can cause shearing – so use socks that can wick perspiration and moisture. Socks should be nicely fit so that no extra fabric can create blisters on your feet.

Know all about Run Injury Free by Wearing Calf Compression Sleeves and Socks!

5. Running shoes

Last, but not the least, you need comfortable running shoes that are well-fitted so that you don’t have to deal with new running shoes and blisters. There are many padded pouches that stick to the insoles and orthotics to provide support.

Keep in mind that there should be a space of a thumbs width between the toes and the tip of the shoe so that the toes can move properly.

Know Your Feet: Check out the Quick Guide on How to Buy Different Types of Running Shoes  

Running Blisters: Treatment procedures  

Even after all the methods to prevent blisters while running, you can still see some obnoxious blisters popping up.

If you want to try home treatment, check Home Remedies for Running Blisters on Feet

Let’s see how you can take the necessary blister care to make it heal properly.

Pop up the blister

Issues: It is difficult to run while the bulging blisters keep on pinching you. For small running blisters, it is best to leave it un-popped. Cut a hole the size of the blister on a band-aid or moleskin and apply on the blister. Cover with gauge.

The blister will heal on its own. However, when the blisters are large in size, there is no other way to get healed without popping them up. Large blisters make it almost impossible to run, put your feet inside the shoe or even set your foot on soil.

how to pop blisters on feet
How to pop blisters on feet

Step-by-Step Treatment:

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Clean the blister with alcohol or iodine
  3. Take a sterilized needle
  4. Puncture a few spots on the edges of the blister and clean the fluids with cotton gauge
  5. Apply apple cider vinegar
  6. Stick a bandage or let it open
  7. Wash the area with Hydrogen Peroxide and apply antibacterial ointment until it is healed.

Tent with moleskins

Make a tent over the blister by applying a moleskin or band-aid with its sticky ends closer so that the padded part is popped up over the blister and there is space between them. The running blisters can breathe and heal without any friction or infection.

Make a tent over the blister
Make a tent over the blister 

Soak in Green tea

For a speedy recovery of foot blister from running, add a few green tea pouches (anti-inflammatory) in boiling water and a teaspoon of baking soda (antiseptic). Let it cool and soak the affected area into it.

If not possible then dip a cotton gauge in it and dab firmly on the blister to let it soften up and draining up the fluids.  

Drying Up

Apply an ointment with Vitamin-E composition or take Vitamin-E tablets. You can also apply Castor oil, Witch Hazel or Aloe Vera gel to prevent inflammation and let the blister dry up.

let the blister dry up
Let the blister dry up!

Still not healed? Try the following

We are obstinate and hence, even after all the prevention and treatment methods, you might still skip some and while with blisters, get a severe Partial Thickness Burn caused from bacterial infection and can persist for long. The blisters leak fluid and the skin gets blemished with some red patches.

So, how to get rid of blisters fast?

Clean with cool running water or put a moist cloth on it until the pain is subdued. Don’t remove the cloth abruptly if it gets attached to the blister; wet the place to separate the cloth from the running blister. Don’t use ice or chilled water as that might worsen the blisters.

Consult a doctor for further treatment.

How long does it take for a blister from a burn to heal?

It depends on the size of the blister and also how you are treating it. Take sufficient water and medicines prescribed by the doctor and drink green tea to make it heal fast.

Summing Up

Injuries are common phenomena if you are engaged in any physical exercise. Similarly, running and blisters are relative to each other. While many of us try to act smart and ignore the small blisters altogether considering them as trivial, they are prone to catch some complicated burns from blisters that take more care and treatment procedure to heal.

So, why not taking some easy steps beforehand to prevent such complexities to occur?

Yes, some blisters are inevitable. But be assured that if you follow up the treatment process aptly, they will definitely heal fast.

Running blisters infographic

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