Principles of Blisters
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Principles of Blisters

Blisters are caused from repeated rubbing or shifting of weight.

Skin is a tough substance. This water resistant blockade does itself credit as the largest organ in the body by preventing disease, protecting tissue, and providing a barrier between bone and terrain. Skin conditions result from the idea that a microbe or force that could have affected the body was instead blocked and absorbed by the skin.

Blisters are one result of force on skin, and they come from a repeated rubbing that proceeds long enough to overcome the ability of the skin to resist irritation. Even though some parts of the body are specifically designed to cushion a lot of the body weight (most especially the bottoms of the feet and hands) with extra thick and tough skin, this resistance can be overcome with enough repeated force and motion.

Unfamiliar and tough footwear can cause horrendous blistering. Perhaps the oldest stereotypical example is the soldier with heavy and thick combat boots marching miles on feet that eventually become absolutely thrashed. The reality, however, is that blistered feet are a result of mismanaged foot care. The notable exception to this is almost all feminine footwear, which seems to be created for the sole (no pun intended) purpose of destroying womens' feet and making their night miserable. It almost seems as if the attractiveness of a woman's shoe has a direct correlation to how much pain it causes.

All types of shoes have a break in period. The material is initially stiff when new, and the shoe takes time to conform to the shape of the foot. In the military, soldiers are issued their boots on the first or second day of Basic Training, and they usually have several days of walking around in garrison to break in the boots before conducting a ruck march or moving out to the field. To avoid blisters, you must spend a few days getting used to your new shoes before they are ready for duty.

Blisters proceed in stages. First, the repeated stress irritates the skin. Second, the skin begins to get hot from friction and "hot spots" develop that hurt slightly when exposed to the stressor. From this point, the pain gradually increases until a fluid bubble develops and the layers of skin begin to shear apart. If you push too much further, the blister may burst and the skin may separate and bleed. When stopping is not an option, the process will continue to increase in severity until you do stop. When this is the case, there is nothing that can be done except to suck it up and drive on.

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Comments (3)

I once had a sister with a blister! Actually, the biology of what skin cells do during formation of a blister is pretty interesting!

very well done.

Nice article.