Three weeks ago my sixteen year old son and I set out to hike the four C’s trail here in East Texas.  Basically it runs from the Neches river overlook to Ratcliff Lake Park near Crockett and spans about twenty miles.  I was reminded of two things on this trip with my son…I’m not sixteen anymore…and blisters hurt!

Very few athletes that I know are unfamiliar with this term.  For that matter, most of us at some time in our lives have formed that wondrous, yet ill-appreciated lesion called a blister.  In general, blisters are raised and often fluid filled sacs of skin, which form in response to excessive heat and friction.  In the earlier stage of formation, blisters will be reddened areas of irritation or hot spots.  They will have definite burning sensations and will actually be warm to touch.  In those cases of continued activity, a clear watery fluid will seep into the area and the outer covering of skin will separate leaving a true blister.  New shoes, ill-fitted shoes, and just plain excessive walking can produce blisters in just abut anyone.

However, although blisters may seem simple enough, they can spell trouble.  First of all, they can cause debility to such a point that a person cannot walk without pain.  Secondly, blisters have somehow notoriously invited improper treatment often resulting in infection and further problems.  Bathroom surgery without a license and with non-sterile instruments is indeed an open invitation to complications.  The most effective approach in dealing with blisters lies in the concept of self-prevention.  Checking one’s shoe fit, monitoring the activity level, and various types of shoe modification can be utilized to prevent these nasty hot spots from developing.

According to this author, the outer layer of the blister should be left in tact.  It is a natural body defense shield against infection and greatly reduces the discomfort of the underlying raw tissue.  In an office setting and with sterile instruments, the fluid is painlessly drained and an adequate lubricating type of medication applied to protect the blister.  In about 24-48 hours the blister pain is gone and a layer of revitalized skin begins to form.  It should be emphasized that blisters should not be ignored or treated carelessly.  Although their occurrence and appearance seem quite simple, their potential hazards can indeed be complicated.  Happy hiking!

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