Ouch—Help Heal Blisters Fast

There are a lot of weird body things that happen when you run and exercise, especially if you are a newbie.

Chafing, sweating in weird ways, pains you never expected….I started running in a bad/cheap sportsbra and had horrible chest pains that I found out were strained ligaments (support those girls!).

My biggest challenge though was what happened to my feet. I have freakishly flat feet—no arch at all. This means that it’s hard to find shoes that fit my unconventionally shaped feet without rubbing in places, and either crushing my toenails or causing blisters.

Even Sam, a marathoner, and experienced runner has faced blisters—not as much these days, as his feet are pretty calloused, but they can still happen. All it takes is a poor choice of shoe or a strange sock fold on a long run and very quickly you are in a world of pain.

So, a few weeks ago we went for a long walk in the snow, and I wore my impractical vinyl boots. They are waterproof, and so it seemed like a good idea at the time (see—logic!), but about half way to the store I knew I had probably made a mistake in my footwear choice.

We saw this guy on the way and it felt like he was laughing at me.
Guys, things got bad. I sat down for a little bit, and took off my boot and was immediately regretful of that decision. My sock was covered in blood. Ew! Not only that but there was about a foot of snow. I couldn’t put my boot back on, and I couldn’t walk in sub-freezing weather in my sock.

Sam, being the Eco Runner (and gentleman) that he is, ran home to get the car and pick me up, while I waited on the curb. It was all very dramatic for one little friction-caused blister.

When I got home, I realized I was hobbled. I was not going to be able to run, or do anything for a while. So I went on a quest to find out what the best treatment was for blisters, so I could get back in my Newtons and on the treadmill.

If the blister is unbroken:

I had at least two that were unbroken, and from my research I learned that you should not pop them, as tempting as it is. The blister is your skins way of forming a natural cushion around the area and allowing it to heal. Popping it will eliminate the cushion and can cause infection. Instead leave it alone and cover it with a bandage, like All Terrain. If you really want to put something on it, or it’s just a potential “hot spot” try putting the cure-all, coconut oil on it.

If you can’t resist, or the blister is rubbing and really bothering you, use a sterile needle, drain it, and put on some antibacterial ointment. Cover it and it should go away within a day or two. I’ve found that wearing cushy socks can help during that time.

If the blister is broken:

It was bad, REAL BAD.
So in this case, my blister was broken and bleeding (it was bad…real bad). I decided to run through the gamut of solutions to find something that would give me some relief.

1. Soaking in hydrogen peroxide

BEFORE I did my research I did the first, tried and true family remedy that my Grams would have suggested (actually she would have painted it with this red stuff called merthiolate, but I’m pretty sure it’s dangerous and off the market for containing mercury)—I tried hydrogen peroxide!

It stung like crazy, and bubbled and then I looked it up to see what I should to next and the advice said—Don’t use hydrogen peroxide on blisters! Oops…good to know.

2. Soaking in salt water

After the hydrogen peroxide incident, I tried salt water. This worked a little better, or at least didn’t feel bad. I’m not sure if it helped the healing process, but it didn’t seem to hurt it.

3. Antibacterial Ointment and Gauze

Again and again online, this was the advice I found, and yes, it seemed to be a very good solution. This allows the blister to breathe and sort of “dry out” which will protect the raw skin from getting infection. Leave the blister uncovered at night and it will dry out faster. Wash it well, and watch for signs of infection, like redness, lots of swelling or red lines that are running out of the blister. If you notice those things—get to a doctor!

4. Tea Tree Oil

Bottle of Awesome!
I am a big fan of Tea Tree, or Melaleuca oil. I quite literally use it on everything. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and it seems to make things heal faster. It fixes zits, heals canker sores, and works great on blisters and skin irritation.

If you aren’t a user of tea tree, be careful because that stuff is very very strong. It has an antiseptic smell that can be a little hard to get used to at first, and even off-putting. This is not something that you want to dab on to smell nice. It can also irritate some people’s skin so if you have sensitive skin like I do, mix it with a little coconut oil to help dilute it (plus it will “stick” on a little better).

My blister healed in about four days and I was back to running as soon as I could. It was definitely not the week to try new shoes, or to push a long run. I just did my usual workout until I was healed and could run without feeling pain in my foot.

What do you guys do for blisters? Have you found anything that works well?