Blisters on the Move


The sun is rising behind the mountains. It’s first rays touching the west side of the valley. Your feet move along the trail, a cool breeze brushes your cheeks. You’ve been training for this race for six months and know this is your day.

And then you feel it. A hot spot begins to develop on your forefoot. Just below your big toe, you know the spot. It’s been an issue in the past, but you haven’t had any problems for months. Since you changed the type of socks you run in. But none of that matters because it’s there now.

What do you do? If you wait you know it will become a blister. Blisters are not good, they can destroy your race, at a minimum you’re going to hurt.

It’s best to deal with blisters as soon as you feel the hot spot or as soon as you know a spot on your foot is going to be problematic. Prevention is the best solution to blisters, but sometimes, regardless of all the blister free socks, shoes, tape, powder, lubrication or whatever, you still get them.

If you’ve done all the prevention you can and know a blister is still a possibility (as it always is); be prepared for them. Take a small blister kit in your hydration pack. They don’t take up much space, well mine don’t.

A mini blister kit should include: a safety pin, alcohol pads, kensiotape and/or hepafix tape and second skin squares. If you get to the offending spot before a blister forms, clean the area with the alcohol pad and tape over it with one of the tapes. If a blister has formed, use the safety pin to drain fluid, after cleaning it and the blister area with the alcohol pads. Make sure the hole you make is in a place where the fluid will continue to be squeezed out as you run to prevent it from refilling. Once this is done, tape over it. If the roof of the blister has ripped off, clean the area with alcohol, put a second skin square down, and tape over it.

If prevention didn’t help and you didn’t come prepared, find something to put between your sock and your shoe to stop the rubbing. A gel wrapper works well or any piece of plastic. You can ask other runners if they have them, if you don’t. No plastic, take your shoe and sock off and see if rearranging things stops the rubbing. Doesn’t help, try running on your foot a little different, just don’t do this for long because it will screw up other things, cause you to fall, or pull some little tendon that will then hurt for the rest of the run.


Blister Care


You are in the middle of your run, and you have a blister. What do you do? Hopefully you have a mini blister kit in your hydration pack. If you don’t, pray to god you have one with your crew or in your drop bag. None there either? Make some friends at the next aid station and come better prepared next time.

Here is how I treat blisters. Disclaimer: doctors do not recommend popping blisters because you risk infection. If the blister is small and not painful to run on, I don’t pop it. I tape over it with hepafix (bought on Amazon) or kensio tape and keep going.

If the blister is painful to run on, clean the area with alcohol then I pop it with a clean safety pin making a hole big enough that it won’t reseal and fill with more fluid. I make the hole on an edge where it will continue to drain as I run (the hole on the side closest to my heel usually). I try to get as much fluid out of it as possible. If you can get the skin to lay flat, it may reattach itself if you can stop the friction. After I pop it, I put Neosporin on it and then tape over it with kensio or hepafix tape. I treat blood blisters the same way.

If you don’t want to pop the blister you can use mole skin with a hole in the center for the blister, then put tape over it (do you see a theme here?). The mole skin will keep the pressure off of the blister and reduce the pain.

If the roof is torn or off, I clean the area with alcohol. Put Neosporin on it then a piece of Second Skin for burns (bought on Amazon) over the exposed tender skin and then tape over it. Second Skin acts as the roof. It protects the tender skin from being rubbed even more. Once you are done running, you’ll want to expose that skin to the air so it can dry out and harden forming your new top layer of skin.

Blisters can also form under callouses and toenails. Callouses should be kept under control because of this. It’s difficult to treat a blister covered by a thick callous. You have to go through all that skin to drain it, if you can get to it at all. A blister under a toenail, is easier than under a callous. Stick a clean pin in it and tape it with hepafix. Don’t use a tape that is rough on the outside. You’ll likely lose the nail.

The best thing is to try and prevent blisters as much as possible. You can read my prior post by scrolling down to learn how to prevent blisters.