Friday, July 8, 2011


I got a Text message from my son this morning with an attached photograph of the "mother of all blisters" on his foot! I have to admit that I was mightily impressed by its size: but then he had just walked over 30kms in preparation for a Charity walk, where he and his friends hope to complete 100kms in 24 hours to raise money for Oxfam - which is even more impressive!

But blisters on the feet are a real leveler when it comes exercise and can affect anyone who is trying out new runners or new boots. The first tell tale sign is a "hot spot" where the skin is starting to look red and feel tender: this usually occurs over bony eminences such as the bunion bone or the heel, but can be more disabling when it happens to the "ball of the foot" area.

My recommendation is to use a generous piece of Fixomull to cover the area and the surrounding skin to give an extra layer of protection; then leave the dressing on for as long as possible (maybe 3 to 4 days) to allow the skin to recover. Fixomull is great stuff because you don't need to change it if it gets wet,and it's perfectly OK to leave it on after you've had a shower. If you do get a blister, where the surface area of the skin shears against the growing area of the basal layer of skin, thus causing fluid to accumulate as a blister; then do exactly the same thing - cover it with Fixomull and leave well alone until the dressing comes off. Even if the blister bursts and oozes through the dressing, just let it dry out and leave it alone. This gives the tender growing skin at the base time to "toughen up", and the dead, surface skin of the blister acts a a good barrier to potential infection. If, however, the area of the blister starts to throb and get more painful, and even start to smell, then that suggests an infection is starting and you should get it checked by your GP.

Of course, the best thing is not to get a blister, and that means making sure your footwear is appropriate to the task - and that includes your socks! But it's not just skin that can suffer due to pressure from shoes: if your toes press against the end of your boots and you walk or jog long distances, then you may get bleeding under the nails and eventually they will fall off!! Be not alarmed - they will regrow, but that will take about 6 months, and in the meantime, you might get a few frightened looks from small children when they ask what's happened to your toes!!
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ClaireyH said...

My husband did this walk a couple of years ago, I was the support team and was totally unprepared.

Other support teams had packs at each station, the walkers were given panadol and voltaren regularly. They changed shoes at every stop, and socks too, especially at night when it was raining.

Alot also wore elastic knee supports.

My husband got retired by the medico at the 88km mark due to swollen knees, the next one went down about 4 kms later. They were so upset at not finishing, but were so unprepared for the event.

And at 4am at the finish line, I have never seen so many blisters on so many feet!

Dr Duncan Jefferson said...

Thanks Claire: I think the swollen knees made me realize what a huge effort the 100Kms walk is!!