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The 7 Blister Prevention Myths

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The 7 Blister Prevention Myths

Yes, blister prevention myths abound!

“… many myths continue to be propagated regarding the prevention and treatment of friction blisters” Douglas Richie DPM (2010)

MYTH 1 Blisters are a burn

The reality is …

  1. Friction blisters do not resemble thermal burns either clinically or histologically
  2. Experimental blister studies show only moderate increases in skin temperature to between 41-50 ºC (insufficient to cause a burn).

MYTH 2 Friction is rubbing

The reality is … (Friction is misunderstood)

Friction is the force that resists rubbing As the bone moves one way, the force of friction opposes this to keep the surface of the skin stationary. The result is all the soft tissue in between stretches. This is shear and this is what causes blisters. You don’t need rubbing to form blisters! Rubbing adds an abrasion injury (deroofed blister).

  • Blister Cause = Shear
  • Deroofed Blister Cause = Rubbing

MYTH 3 Wearing cotton socks will stop blisters

The reality is … (This is the worst thing you can do!)

  • Cotton is a hydrophilic (water-attracting) fibre
  • It keeps moisture trapped near the skin
  • Moisture increases friction levels
  • So cotton increases blister incidence

MYTH 4 Powders stop friction

The reality is … (This won’t work for long)

  • Feet perspire a lot (especially when you exercise)
  • Powder absorbs as much perspiration as it can
  • Then it clumps together and increases friction levels

MYTH 5 Lubricants are the best way to stop friction

The reality is … (This one is a semi-myth)

  • Initially friction reduces
  • Then friction increases

MYTH 6 Heat, moisture and friction cause blisters

The reality is … (This is an over-simplification)

There are 4 factors required to produce blisters:

  1. Thick and immobile skin
  2. High coefficient of friction (friction & pressure)
  3. Moving bone
  4. Repetition

It gets hot in your shoe which causes your feet to sweat. This moisture increases friction levels. But this is just one part of blister formation.

MYTH 7 Blisters are a part of sport – wear them with pride!

The reality is … (Blisters are not inevitable!)

Blisters are not inevitable! Get the facts.

Rebecca Rushton

Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leader, author and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.

No Comments
  • John Vonhof
    27 June 2014 at 6:49 am

    You are a great resource for those wanting to resolve their blister problems. I hope people will take the information to heart.

  • Rebecca Rushton
    27 June 2014 at 9:13 am

    Together we are shining a light on this under-rated injury John. You’ve advanced the care of blisters in athletes more than anyone else on the planet. Keep up the great work! All the best this weekend with the Western States 100.

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