Prevent and Heal Blisters

01
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Ouch! A Blister

Blisters
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Blisters are a common nuisance among ballet dancers, especially pointe ballet dancers. If you've never developed a blister from your pointe shoes, consider yourself lucky. A blister can cause a great deal of pain and can take a long time to heal.

If you develop a painful blister on your foot after a ballet class, it's a good idea to look closely at your shoes and your feet to figure out why. Blisters are usually the result of a pointe shoe repeatedly rubbing against a sweating foot. Fortunately, blisters are fairly easy to treat and easy to prevent...most of the time.

The following steps will show you how to treat and prevent blisters on your feet.

02
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Find the Perfect Fit

Pointe shoes
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Nothing screams blister like an ill-fitting pointe shoe. Even the most subtle size issues can create enormous blisters. It is extremely important to find a pointe shoe that fits your foot precisely. (Remember, pointe shoes must be fitted by trained professionals. Even then, it may take a bit of tweaking to find the perfect shoe for you.)

Too big or too small pointe shoes create unnecessary friction. Blisters are caused by a combination of friction, pressure and moisture. When you subject your skin to repeated force, tears can be created in the second and third layers, while the top layer remains intact. Fluid then flows into the created space, thus forming a blister.

03
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Keep It Dry

Foot powder
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If damp skin tends to blister easily, it's no wonder blisters develop while dancing in pointe shoes. Pointe shoes cause your feet to sweat heavily. (Have you ever been in a dressing room after a ballet performance? As the pointe shoes come off, the odor that develops resembles that of a football locker room after a big game.)

To keep your skin dry, try sprinkling a bit of powder inside your pointe shoes before dancing. The powder will help to absorb excess moisture. Also, avoid wearing cotton tights, as the cotton tends to absorb sweat. Instead, opt for synthetic materials such as polyester or microfiber.

If you develop blisters on your toes under toe pads, try switching to lambs wool.

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Cover Hot Spots

Bandage
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For extra protection, try to cover spots where your pointe shoes rub. Look for high-quality cloth bandages, as they tend to absorb moisture better than plastic.

If you prefer to use toe tape, simply apply a small piece over sensitive areas or wrap a strip around your affected toes. Be careful not to wrap the tape too tightly, as feet tend to swell throughout the day, especially during a tough pointe ballet class.

05
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Drain the Fluid

Rubbing alcohol
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If you develop a blister and must continue dancing, it is recommended that you lance it with a sterile needle as soon as possible. Lancing it will help relieve pain and pressure. However, it is only safe to lance a blister if the fluid inside is clear.

Prepare your skin by first washing it and swabbing with rubbing alcohol. Next, sterilize a needle by holding it in a flame until the tip turns red. After allowing it to cool, gently make one small hole in the blister.

After draining, allow the blister to air out overnight. Apply antibiotic ointment before wearing your shoes the next day. Watch the area closely for any signs of infection such as redness, pain, or pus inside the blister.

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Pamper and Rest

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Although it's not easy for dancers to find the time, nothing is better for tired, blistered feet than rest. Try soaking your feet in warm water and Epsom salts each night before bed. Even if your feet feel fine, soaking can help reduce swelling.

Source:

Adapted from Garthwaite, Josie. "Blister 911", Pointe Magazine, Aug/Sept 2012, Pp 46-48.