Sports Physiotherapy for Blisters

Blisters are small fluid-filled bumps or pockets within the outer layers of the skin. They are commonly caused due to rubbing or friction, burning, freezing, infection or chemical exposure to the skin. Blisters are usually filled with plasma or serum. Sometimes blisters may also be filled with other fluids such as pus or blood; in which case you are probably have an infection and require treatment.

Causes:

Blisters may look like bubbles forming on affected regions of the skin. A blister can form from the following:

  • Exposure to heat, sun, electricity, chemicals or excessive friction for example from the rubbing of the foot while wearing new shoes
  • Freezing injuries
  • Insect bites
  • Inflammation of the skin due to allergic reactions from exposure to triggers such as poison ivy or oak, and contact dermatitis
  • Infections due to cold sores, shingles, chicken pox. Folliculitis, scabies, cellulitis, impetigo and beg big bites
  • Pinching of the skin with strong forces – for example, when your finger gets accidently caught while shutting the window or door. This causes the blood vessels to get damaged and form a blood-filled blister on the skin of your finger
  • Medication side effects – over-the-counter medication may cause blisters. In order to treat such blisters, you must stop taking the medication that causes them
  • Fever and chills along with blisters. This may indicate a severe underlying condition that needs medical treatment immediately. See your doctor as soson as possible

Athletes are most likely to get blisters due to the high amount of running required. Excessive or prolonged running may result in foot blisters due to the rubbing and friction produced between the foot and the shoe. Switching to new shoes may exacerbate the condition as the skin of the foot is not fully adjusted to the new material of the shoe, causing excessive rubbing. If not treated properly, blusters can be a nuisance as they may cause pain and interfere with physical activity. Many athletes may also start stumbling or limping unexpectedly due to the pain and end up having further, more severe injuries such as broken bones or fractures.

Treatment:

If you suspect that you have a blister due to initial signs of blisters such as the burning sensation of the skin, treatment may be required to prevent further injury or pain.

For a closed blister:

  • Do not try to remove the outer layer of the skin and protect the blister using a doughnut pad until initial symptoms such as irritation and burning has resolved
  • Sterilize a needle using rubbing alcohol and carefully puncture the blister by forming tiny hole around the blister using the sterile needle
  • Allow the blister to fully drain and avoid peeling the skin
  • Apply an over-the-counter topical antibiotic cream on the blister and cover it with a sterile bandage
  • See your doctor if you notice signs of infection such as pus drainage, red streaks around the wound or if you have a fever

For a torn bluster:

  • Rinse the blister with soap and water
  • Swab the blister using iodine or rubbing alcohol
  • Apply an over-the-counter topical antibiotic or zinc oxide to the wound
  • Cover the wound with a sterile dressing for about 3 days
  • Keep the affected are protected from further injury

Prevention

Follow these simple steps to prevent blisters from occurring:

  • Wrap the areas that are most prone to blisters with a protective splint or bandage in order to minimize friction
  • Wear special athletic socks that provide extra padding and protection
  • Place moleskin in the heel area of your shoe in order to minimize friction
  • Use special lubricants in order to reduce friction

See your physiotherapist for advice on correct footwear and assessment of your lower limb biomechanics to prevent blisters.

Call Happy Physio for expert Physiotherapy on (08) 9272 7359 today!