Thursday, 24 May 2012

Blisters, and what to do about them

Small blister from my hike the other day.
If you've been reading some of my latests posts, you know that I got a few blisters the other day, and it made me think; what a perfect subject to make a post about.
So here it is, blisters and what to do about them (at least a few tips to what you can do to them).

What are blisters:
You can get blisters from various things and on various places of the body, but often, you get them on your feet, after wearing some new shoes or just from friction between your skin and the shoes.
Blisters come from the skin being damaged, for example by friction (as was my case the other day). Say you keep running or walking, then the friction continues, and this friction, over time, will cause the most outer skin to separate from the two layers below. Between the top layer and the layers underneath, some fluids will build up, making a bubble of the outer layer.
This fluid is there to protect the underlying tissue from further damage and helping with the healing process.

One of the first signs you might notice, when starting to get a blister, is a burning feeling in the area, as well as some redness.
When the outer skin has started to separate from the layers underneath, the fluids will start to build up, to protect the tissue, and this may cause pain, especially if they are on weight-bearing spots, like the heel or under the Metatarsal-Phalangeal joint of the 1st toe. 

Drained blister
What to do, to prevent them:
I assume no-one wants any blisters, so I'll give you some ideas to help prevent blisters.
What to remember is that the most important thing to do, when wanting to prevent blisters, is to reduce friction on the skin. And "how do we do that?" you might ask, Well, I'll tell you:
- Add an extra layer to the skin. There are several ways to do this, one is to buy some Blister band-aids, like Compeed, use some regular Sports tape, or wear 2 pair of socks. If you have a certain spot, where you always get blisters, you can add this extra layer to the skin, to help prevent blisters, so that instead of the skin being damaged, it'll be the extra layer.
- Wear a pair of socks, that will fit perfectly.
- Make sure your feet are dry, and not sweaty or moist, as the skin will be softer and more exposed to damage.

How to treat them:
If you've been unlucky and gotten a blister, this is what you can do to treat them (I'm not saying this is what you have to do, but what you can do).
If it's a small blister, which doesn't cause any pain during you daily life, let it be. The outer skin keeps the fluid in, and prevents infection. The fluids help healing process of the new skin, and drains automatically over a small duration of time.
If you have gotten a big/large blister, which causes you discomfort, you can "pop" it. Make sure to clean the area and have a sterilized pin or needle (can be done by passing it through a flame) ready. Next you make a small hole in the damaged skin, preferably around the edge between the healthy skin and the blister. This way, when you walk, the fluid will be pushed out through the small hole, compared to the hole being on the top of the blister.
You should always leave the outer layer, as this will help prevent infection and protect the underlying skin.

I hope that you will not get any blisters from this day forth :)

Small tip when hiking:
Always have a pair of extra socks with you, when going for a longer hike.

- Own knowledge (from Hiking, Military service, and more)