Preventing and Treating Friction Blisters

Preventing and Treating Friction Blisters

This post focuses on preventing and treating friction blisters. It also covers what a friction blister is, what a hot-spot is, treatment for hot-spots, preventing friction blisters, treating friction blisters, and how to drain a blister.

I love walking. Once I walked for seven weeks (hiking the Bibbulmun Track), and whenever I am in a new place (and even when I’m not) I much prefer getting around on foot.

As you might imagine, with all this walking I am pretty prone to friction blisters, especially in the tropics.

Well over the years my feet have gotten pretty tough but this wasn’t always true, so in this post I will discuss how I go about preventing and treating friction blisters.

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What is a Friction Blister?

First off, let’s clarify what a blister is.

A blister is typically a protective pocket of clear fluid (plasma) underneath the layers of the skin. If they are filled with blood they are called blood blisters, and if they become infected they will fill with puss.

Blisters can be caused by cold, exposure to chemicals, friction, heat, etc.

The most common, troublesome blisters are those found on the feet caused by friction and heat whilst hiking or engaging in similar activities.

What’s a Hot Spot?

Before a blister forms the area will often get red and painful. This is known as a hot spot. Treat it before it becomes a blister.

Treatment for Hot Spots

A hot spot can simply be covered, e.g., Band-Aid.

Ideally, raise the area around it slightly and then cover it.

Preventing and Treating Friction Blisters

FYI. The treatment for friction blisters described below can also be applied to most other types of blisters.

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Prevention of Friction Blisters

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent friction blisters and hot-spots.

  • Wear proper footwear.
  • Use sock liners.
  • Cover blister-prone areas, e.g., using fixamol or a Band-Aid.
  • Change wet/sweaty socks.
  • Use foot powders to keep your feet dry.

Treating Friction Blisters

Leave the blister intact when in a controlled environment. The skin will keep it protected from infection.
Pad it like a hotspot.

How to Drain a Blister

If there is a chance of the blister rupturing, it is often better to drain it manually so you can clean and dress it.

  1. Clean the area around blister.
  2. Sterilize a needle and pierce the side of the blister.
  3. Let the fluid drain.
  4. Apply antibiotic ointment.
  5. Cover and monitor.

The information in this post has been sourced from Sam Fury’s book Wilderness and Travel Medicine.

Got anything else to say about preventing and treating friction blisters? Share your thoughts in the comments 😀 .

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