How to Prevent and Treat Foot Blisters When Running

Pair of feet with blisters and bandages
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Most runners have had at least one run or race ruined because of a painful foot blister. Here are the symptoms and causes of foot blisters, with tips on how to prevent and treat them.

Symptoms of Foot Blisters:

You've probably seen foot blisters before: Small bubbles of skin filled with clear fluid that can appear anywhere on your foot. Some are painless, but others can be extremely painful -- enough to cause you to stop your run.

Cause of Foot Blisters:

Blisters on the feet are usually caused by friction, typically between skin and sock. Excessive moisture due to sweaty feet or wet conditions can also lead to blisters. Wearing running shoes that are too small or tied way too tight can also cause blisters.

Prevention of Foot Blisters:

To prevent blisters altogether, make sure your shoes fit properly. Your running shoe should be at least 1/2 a size bigger than your street shoe size, since your feet swell when you run. You should have a little room in your toebox.

Buy socks specifically made for running, such as WrightSocks. Look for socks made of synthetic fabrics (not cotton!) such as Teflon or CoolMax, which wick moisture away from your feet, preventing the sock from bunching up and causing blisters. Also, buy socks with no seams and a smooth surface. Some runners wear double-layer socks created to deter blisters. The idea with those socks is that any friction occurs between the two sock layers instead of your skin and the sock.

You can also spread BodyGlide or Vaseline on problem areas. But go easy: Too much and you'll be sliding around in your shoes.

If you go for a pedicure , make sure they don't remove your calluses with a razor or emory board. The callused skin serves as blister protection for your feet, so if it's removed, you'll be more at risk for blisters.

Some runners also put moleskin or athletic tape over "hot spots" on their feet that are prone to blisters, as a preventive measure. If you do this, just make sure the moleskin or tape is applied smoothly (no wrinkles) and not too tight.

Treatment of Foot Blisters

If you already have a blister and it's not painful, just leave it alone, since the skin serves as protection. It will eventually break and the fluid will drain. If the blister is painful, then you should boil a needle for 5-10 minutes in water and once cool, carefully pierce the blister. Press the fluid out and use an antiseptic cream on it. Cover the area with a product such Band-Aid Blister Block or moleskin to protect against infection and provide cushioning.

If you're running in a race, such as a marathon, and you develop a painful blister, stop at one of the medical stations. They'll be able to treat your blister and hopefully get you back in the race, running pain-free.

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