Monday, June 18, 2012

Blisters — the hiker’s nemesis!

Terry Hershey Park trail in Houston, TX, USA
Terry Hershey Park trail in Houston, TX, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Of all the aggravating foot ailments that crop up, blisters rank high. If you get a blister at an inconvenient time, it can ruin an outing. Therefore, it’s a good plan to be prepared for blisters and be able to treat them on the spot.

Blisters are the result of moisture, friction, heat and dirt. Moisture is generally caused by a damp sock, and friction occurs when there is rapid repetitive rubbing on the skin. However, the best treatment for blisters is prevention. If you are planning a hike, wearing new shoes or boots, then rub a small amount of lubricant on your heels or other hot spots.  The lubricant will help eliminate friction.
If a blister happens anyway, don’t intentionally break it unless you must to keep walking.  Appropriate treatment includes the following:
  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Only if necessary, break the blister in the lower side area with a sterile needle (rubbing alcohol works) and allow it to drain.
  • Leave skin covering the blister rather than trimming it.
  • Apply a healing ointment and cover with a sterile band aid.
  • Keep dry and clean. Allow it to heal in the open air as much as possible.
Change your shoes to a pair that fits at the first opportunity to a style that accommodates the blister and does not allow the shoe to rub on the area. You might want to wear a slipper for a couple of days until the area is well on its way to healing.

Blisters do not normally require medical treatment, but at the first sign of an infection you should contact Dr. Bowman. Signs of infection may include increased pain, swelling, redness or warmth, red streaks leading away from the blister, and pus draining from the blister.  Cluster of very small blisters may be the first sign of a skin infection or Tinea Pedis.

Foot blisters are painful and are sure to curtail your immediate activity, but most are treatable at home. Remember to keep the affected area dry and clean and allow it to heal on its own. If you have diabetes, or another condition or ailment that has caused a loss of sensation in your feet, you should call Dr. Bowman for treatment at (713) 467-8886. His experienced hands will have you back on the path in no time.

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