Is it better or worse for runners to pop blisters?
If a blister isn’t too painful and isn’t preventing you from walking, then it’s best to keep it intact to help prevent risk of infection (besides, blisters are pretty good at healing themselves when left alone). Cover small blisters with an adhesive bandage, and large ones with a porous, plastic-coated gauze pad (so the blister can breathe).
If popping looks to be the best course of action, always check for potential signs of infection before touching a blister (Call up your doc if the blister is secreting yellow or green pus, if the area becomes increasingly swollen or inflamed, or if you have any other reason to think it could be infected). If there are no signs of infection, follw these steps to pop blisters safely on your own:
- Wash your hands. Don’t skimp on the water and soap!
- Clean the blister. Use a clean swab with water and soap, rubbing alcohol, or iodine.
- Sterilize a needle (a small, sharp needle or a pin should do it—nothing fancy). Use rubbing alcohol and a clean swab or pad.
- Take a deep breath. Try not to freak out about poking yourself with a needle.
- Puncture the side of the blister in several spots. Aim for spots close to the blister’s edge. Soak up the draining fluid with a clean piece of cotton or gauze.
- Apply antibiotic ointment. Then place gauze and/or an adhesive bandage over the area (think of it as a construction site—you want that whole section quarantined). Secure gauze with medical tape.
- Wait a few (2-3) days. Then cut away and remove the dead skin (Use sterilized scissors or tweezers and rubbing alcohol to keep the area clean.).
- Repeat Step #6. Apply more antibiotic ointment and bandage again until healed.
While there may be more than one way to get a blister, there are at least as many ways to prevent and treat them. Don’t get discouraged if one pops up early on in your running career—just assess the issue (stat!), find a preventative method that works for you, and get back on the roads when the skin is healed and free from pain.
Why did this come up
Recently increase in blisters after injury and high running mileage
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