Blister Prevention and Treatment: Tested by Runners, Approved by Podiatrists

When it comes to long-distance running, few things can dampen the spirits of a runner like a blister. As a podiatrist who understands the importance of comfortable feet for runners, I’ve witnessed the frustration that blisters can bring. Between self-experimentation and trialing different treatment methods with patients, I can say that I have tested just about every type of blister prevention/treatment product there is. This article will help you understand why blisters form, how to treat them, and which products to buy.

Understanding Blisters

Before delving into the recommended products, let’s briefly explore what blisters are. Most people feel the discomfort of blisters but may not realize that they are the body’s defense mechanism against friction and heat. When the skin on the feet rubs against shoes during running, the body responds by producing extra fluid under the skin’s top layer to create a cushion against the friction. However, during activities like running, where shoes are constantly in contact with the feet, blisters can become a significant issue if not addressed promptly.

Prevention vs. Treatment

The first step in blister management is prevention. Choosing well-fitting shoes, opting for moisture-wicking socks, using protective barriers like bandaids or gels, wearing well-ventilated shoes, ensuring a secure lace lockdown, and keeping toenails trimmed short are essential preventive measures. However, if a blister does form, it’s crucial to address it promptly to prevent worsening and aid in quick recovery.

Recommended Products

Prevention Products:

  1. Ergonx Ergo Fit Socks
    Price: $29.95
    Performance: Great
    Comfort: Excellent
    Design: Neutral color options, low ankle length, moisture-wicking with silver fibres
    https://ergonx.com.au/products/ergonx-ergo-fit-socks-white-1-pair
    The Ergonx sock is an excellent option for all types of runs. It has ample cushioning for longer runs while providing enough compression to ensure zero rubbing.
    Verdict: Excellent everyday running sock. While there are other socks on the market that will provide more cushioning or more compression, this one strikes the perfect balance of both.
  2. Injinji Lightweight Mini-Crew
    Price: $29.95
    Performance: Great
    Comfort: Great (for most people)
    Design: Great color range, unique toe sleeve design
    https://www.injinji.net.au/collections/run/products/injinji-run-lightweight-mini-crew
    For those who dare, these socks will save you from nasty toe blisters in longer runs and are especially useful on difficult terrains.
    Verdict: Fantastic socks for blister prevention, especially for reducing friction between toes.
  3. Blister Wool
    Price: $14.95 for 20g
    Performance: Excellent
    Comfort: Excellent
    Design: Fiddly, tricky to place correctly
    Blister Wool, made from 100% Australian-grown wool, demonstrated success in reducing blisters. However, its single-use nature and application challenges were notable drawbacks.
    Verdict: Cost-effective and successful but requires careful application.

Treatment Products:

  1. Johnson & Johnson Hydroseal Bandaids
    Price: $9.35 for a pack of four
    Performance: Excellent for heels and under the ball, sub-par for toes
    Comfort: Good
    Design: Thick, easy-to-use
    These hydroseal bandaids are a savior for treating blisters, providing a protective seal, reducing pain, and aiding the healing process.
    Verdict: Essential for quick blister recovery during a run.
  2. BlisterPod Advanced Blister Kit
    Price: $65.99
    Performance: Great, wide variety of products
    Comfort: Great
    Design: Excellent, convenient case
    Durability: Great
    The BlisterPod kit offers a comprehensive solution with a variety of high-quality products, including scalpels, swabs, dressings, and hydrocolloid bandaids.
    Verdict: A well-rounded kit for both prevention and treatment.
  3. AMK Medical Blister Pack
    Price: $23.95
    Performance: Good, but could be better value
    Comfort: Excellent
    Design: Light, re-sealable and compact
    Durability: Mixed
    This pack, lacking a case, provides moleskin bandaids, treatment pads, and cleaning supplies. While individually useful, it falls short in terms of value.
    Verdict: Good for restocking, but lacks some high-value items.

Conclusion

In the quest for the ultimate blister prevention and treatment, it’s evident that no single product suits every runner’s needs. Each product has its strengths and weaknesses, and personal experimentation is crucial. For me, finding the right sock, coupled with the perfect fitting shoe and stocking up on essentials for emergency treatment puts me in pretty good shape for dealing with blisters when my training load is increased.

Remember, the battle against blisters is complex, and what works for one may not work for another. Stay proactive, experiment, and prioritize comfort to keep those feet running smoothly. And remember, podiatrists are excellent at treating and managing foot conditions including blisters so don’t be afraid to book an appointment at active care podiatry if you need any blister assistance.