Blister Care

Prevention

Don’t grip the handle too hard. You should be aiming to lightly roll the blade handle in your feathering hand rather than turn it like a doorknob.

Tape any pre-blister areas before rowing if they feel sore or you’re prone to blisters in that area. Opinions differ, but I like zinc oxide tape. It’s fabric based, which means it’s flexible and you can tear rather than needing scissors. You can buy it from pharmacists, e.g. Boots or online.

Zinc oxide tape

Carry tape with you in the boat, in a sealed plastic bag so it doesn’t get soaked in Cam water (very unhygienic, and it will lose its stickiness).

Management

Tape blisters before rowing, leave them open to heal at other times unless they’re ‘weeping’. Don’t stick tape directly to a wound, instead use either a folded over piece of tape or a plaster to cover the area, then tape over the top. I use zinc oxide tape and elastoplast waterproof fabric plasters (other brands are available etc. etc., but I’ve found cheaper plasters fall off pretty quickly).

If you get a blister during an outing tape it when you stop for water, and wash your hands really well when you get home. In fact, wash your hands after every outing anyway, the Cam is not exactly potable 😛

Some examples of taping methods are shown below; the correct one for you will of course depend on the position of the blister.

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Treatment

If a blister is unpopped, the NHS recommends that you do not pierce it, as in a couple of days the upper layer of skin should harden and form a barrier, which will protect the new skin underneath. I know it’s very tempting, but don’t pop blisters and soon you will get lovely leathery hands 😀

If a blister bursts, try not to pick at it and make the wound bigger. Wash it and keep it clean, cut off any large flaps of skin with clean scissors, but in general leave as much skin in place as possible. You may find that if the skin underneath is too ‘new’ it will start to crack as it dries; this can be helped by applying hand cream or Vaseline. If the blister has edges of hard skin which keep catching on things it may be best to carefully sand them with an (ideally new) emery board rather than picking them off (make sure you wash your hands before and after).

If a blister is infected (an infected blister will be filled with yellow or green pus and may be painful, red and hot) as a minimum wash it thoroughly and apply antiseptic cream. If it looks like it’s getting worse see a doctor or pharmacist.

If you have any questions please ask your coaches, we’ve been doing this long enough that you probably can’t gross us out. But that is not a challenge 😛

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