Netball Series: Blisters | Prevention & Management

Just about every netballer knows how annoying and painful blisters can be, particularly when they appear mid-way through a tournament. There are a number of things you can implement to prevent blisters from occurring as well as a range of strategies to help once a blister has already formed.

Firstly, it is important to understand what causes a blister. Blisters are typically a result of a combination of friction and pressure. We know netball requires a lot of lateral movements, change of direction, and hard quick stopping, all of which can increase pressure and friction on our feet.

Factors that can contribute to the development of blisters include:

  • Poor-fitting footwear
  • Worn out/loose stretched socks. 
  • Wet or sweaty sock

Top Tips for preventing blisters:

  • Ensure footwear is the correct fit and sport-appropriate.
  • Change socks throughout the day if participating in a tournament.
  • Maintaining adequate general foot health.
  • Moisture-wicking socks
    • Moisture-wicking socks help by encouraging moisture to move away from the skin and spreading it throughout the sock. Popular anti-blister socks include Thorlo and Injinji.
  • Thorlo socks: Great moisture-wicking material with the addition of extra cushioning around the heel, forefoot and toes (most common blister locations) to help reduce pressure.
  • Injinji socks: Great for netballers who get blisters on their toes. Toe socks help reduce friction and rubbing between toes.

Managing and treating painful blisters

When blisters do occur, it is important you have a few tips, tricks, and the knowledge to manage them correctly. Blister treatment depends on what stage your blister is in.

Blister stages and treatments:

    • Intact blister: Blister has not popped or burst and blister roof is still intact.
      • Protection is key! Protect blister with an island dressing and offload pressure and friction. A donut pad surrounding the blister will offload the pressure and friction.
    • Torn or burst blister: Blister roof has torn or burst in a small section, but overlying skin is still attached and in place.
      • When a blister is in the stage it is open to infection, so antiseptic is essential. Dress with betadine and an island dressing plus offload pressure and friction with a donut pad!
    • Deroofed or open blister: Blister roof has completely come off leaving exposed fragile skin.
      • At this stage, they can be very sensitive and painful as raw fragile skin is fully exposed. In this stage, it is also important to keep the area clean to prevent infection. Once again betadine and an island dressing can be used. Alternatively, hydrocolloid dressings can be used at this stage as the blister roof has already been removed.

To demonstrate the various types of dressings

Top tips for treating blisters:

  • Do not cover a blister with just tape! The tape will stick to the blister roof and likely tear it when being removed.
  • Avoid using hydrocolloid dressings on an intact or torn blister. Similar to the tape, this type of dressing adheres to fragile skin and pulls it off when removed.
  • If blister bursts, be sure to use an antiseptic such as betadine as part of the dressing plan.
  • Reduce pressure and friction on the blister area.

Constantly battling blisters? Tried all our tips and tricks? Book in to see one of our Podiatrists to help manage and prevent those annoying blisters.