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Battling Blisters

Battling Blisters

The Bane of Every Adventure Racer’s Existence by Frank Meyer

When compared to the nausea, muscle tears, diarrhea, dehydration and near total exhaustion that many adventure racers suffer in the course of competition, blisters may seem like a rather curious choice to be the focus of a column. I mean, C’mon, you’re an adventure racer!  It’s just a teeny blister, suck it up! The reality, however, is that a painful blister – especially one that becomes infected – can end your day on the trail just as fast as a sprain or broken bone.

In fact, blisters rank as the #1 reason why outdoor enthusiasts cut their trips short in the outdoors, according to an American Journal of Medicine study (“Medical Risks of Wilderness Hiking”).

A nagging blister, though, needn’t end your race prematurely. With the right gear and know-how, blisters can be prevented and effectively treated, allowing you to cross the finish line every time.

Here are some of AMK’s Blister tips to keep you on the righteous path:

• Make sure your shoes fit properly. Blisters are caused when heat – friction – is exposed to the skin. If your footwear is too big or too small, friction will occur.

• Gradually break in new shoes. Take few short runs to allow your shoes to meld to the shape of your feet before embarking on the Big Race.

• Keep your feet dry. Blisters more readily form on wet skin.

• Sock it to ‘em! Wear a thin liner sock under a thick outer sock, so that friction occurs between the sock layers, not on your feet.

• Moleskin it! If you regularly sustain blisters or hotspots in the same areas, make sure you cover those parts of your foot with moleskin before the race. Try Adventure® Medical Kits new Moleskin. They come with 22 pre-cut shapes, eliminating the need to carry scissors and are made with a more aggressive adhesive, so they’ll stay on your feet all day.

• If you develop a small blister (roughly the size of a dime), do not puncture or drain it. Apply a GlacierGel™ self-adhesive dressing directly over the blister. As easy to apply as a band-aid, AMK’s GlacierGel™ Blister and Burn Dressings contain 50% second generation hydro-gel, which provides a cool environment, immediately relieving the pain of the blister and allowing it to heal rapidly. The GlacierGel™ dressings, which stay in place for up to four days, are waterproof, breathable and transparent, so you can monitor your blister site for any signs of infection.

• If you develop a large blister (the size of a quarter or bigger), drain it using a needle or tip of a knife that has been cleaned with an antiseptic towelette or alcohol wipe. Massage the fluid out of the blister using a fresh antiseptic towelette or soap and water, then apply a GlacierGel™ dressing. Available in a six pack, featuring three small and three large dressings, GlacierGel™ also comes in the Blister Medic™, AMK’s total blister treatment and prevention package that includes pre-cut moleskin and anti-septic wipes.

• If you have none of the above, use Duct Tape and tape over the blister or hot spot.

• Once you’ve dressed your blister, look for signs of infection, such as redness around the wound, swelling, increased pain or cloudy fluid collecting under the dressing. If any of these signs occur, remove the dressing and immediately seek medical help.

• Improvisational Blister Tip: Always carry a small tube of super glue. If you’re miles from help with a painful blister, drain the fluid using a cleaned knife or pin, then inject with a small dab of super glue into the space you have evacuated. Next press the loose skin overlying the blister back in place and cover the site with tape. Be forewarned, it’ll smart, but if you have none of the above-mentioned solutions, it will do the trick until you can receive proper treatment.

For more wilderness medicine tips, visit www.adventuremedicalkits.com

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