Baseball may be the best sport in the world, at least in my opinion. But if there is one thing I cannot stand as a batter it is getting painful blisters on my hands. These blisters are not only sore, but also affect my performance. When there is a big game coming up, the last thing I want as a batter is a painful blister hindering my play.
Luckily, through years of playing baseball, I have discovered the best ways to deal with blisters, which are:-
- Keep Playing
- Shave Down Calluses
- Wear Two Pairs of Batting Gloves
- Apply Cushioning for Batting Practice
- Switch Up Your Bat & Grip
You too can use these ideas to stop these blisters from ruining your fun and performance!
In this article, I’ll answer all your common blister-related questions: Should I pop the blister? How do I clean a blister? Is there a way I can prevent blisters? Can I buy products to help heal my blisters?
Here are my tried and tested methods for dealing with blisters from batting.
Causes of Blisters
Before I let you in on my secrets for dealing with blisters, it’s important we understand what actually causes blisters. Without knowing the root of the problem, there is no way we can work to avoid it!
Blisters are caused by one thing: friction. This is the force applied to your skin caused by repetitive rubbing against its surface.
As a batter, there is constant friction across your hands caused by the bat moving in your palms as you swing. This causes the separate layers of your skin to rub against each other and separate. In between these layers, liquid accumulates, forming a blister.
Blisters are painful as this liquid is not supposed to be here. It causes pressure that can push down on nerves in your skin. If you don’t know how to treat blisters correctly, they can also become inflamed and infected, leading to further discomfort.
Really painful blisters can affect your batting performance which we do not want, so it is important to get your blisters treated, especially if you have a big game coming up. But what are the steps I take for a speedy blister recovery?
The first thing you need to consider is whether you should pop the blister, or whether this will this make it worse.
Truth be told, there is no one-answer-fits-all approach. It depends on the type of blister you have and how painful it is.
1. Treatment for Non-Painful Blisters or Blood Blisters
If your blister is not painful, you should leave the fluid inside the blister. The blister will gradually heal itself over time and the top layer of skin will protect the blister from becoming infected.
You should also never pop your blister if it is dark purple or red as this is a blood blister. These blisters are connected to your bloodstream and should be left alone. If you pop a blood blister, you risk getting bacteria into your bloodstream, which will cause a serious infection.
Just because you shouldn’t pop these blisters, it does not mean there is nothing you can do to help the recovery. Here is how you can treat a blister without needing to pop it:
- Purchase moleskin – Moleskin is a heavy cotton fabric that is sticky on one side, similar to a thick bandage. You can buy it from your local pharmacy.
- Clean the area – Use antiseptic cream or soap and warm water to clean the blister and the surrounding area. This removes any bacteria that could lead to potential infection.
- Cut a section of moleskin – Cut a piece of moleskin that is slightly bigger than the area of the blister. Fold this in half with the non-sticky sides together and cut a half circle the size of your blister from the middle.
- Apply moleskin – Take off the backing and apply the moleskin placing the blister in the hole you have just cut out.
This will help protect the blister from popping painfully and causing infection. It also stops more friction being applied, which can make the blister swell further and get worse.
If you have a very large blister that is still protruding out the top of the moleskin, you can repeat the process and add another layer of moleskin over the top to build up the thickness.
2. Treatment for Painful Blisters
On the other hand, if there is a huge build-up of pressure because of the fluid accumulation which is causing a lot of pain, it is time to pop it!
You need to follow these guidelines when popping your blister, otherwise it could become infected. This leads to more pain and a longer recovery time. Here is how to pop your blister the right way:
- Clean the area – Use antiseptic cream to remove any bacteria from the blister and the surrounding skin. If not, bad bacteria could get into the blister and cause infection.
- Sterilize a needle – Heat a nail in boiling water to remove any bacteria from the needle too.
- Apply pressure to the blister – Use your thumb to gently push on one side of the blister so it swells and balloons out. This makes it easier to pop.
- Create a hole – Insert the needle into the base of the ballooned side of the blister.
- Push out fluid – Apply more pressure with your thumb to force the liquid build up out of the hole you have just created.
- Apply antiseptic cream – Apply more antiseptic cream to the whole area to avoid infection.
- Cover with a bandage – Tightly cover the popped blister with a bandage and leave the skin to heal.
One thing to remember when popping a painful blister is to never remove the top layer of skin. This acts as a protective layer that keeps the raw skin below from being exposed before it has matured.
You might find that because of the placement of your blister and how moist the area is that your bandage repeatedly falls off. If this is the case, make sure you clean the area each time and reapply a bandage.
Alternatively, I have found specialized blister bandages can stick to your skin much longer. These can be bought from your local pharmacy and are a worthwhile investment, especially if you get blisters a lot.
While knowing how to treat blisters is extremely useful, preventing yourself from getting painful blisters from batting in the future is also useful to know.
Where exactly you get blisters depends on how you hold the bat and on the anatomy of your hands. Some people naturally have tougher skin that does not blister easily, whereas others will need to go to longer lengths to prevent blisters.
Therefore, it is worth trying all of these prevention methods to find one that works for you.
1. Keep Playing
The more you play baseball, the tougher your hands will get. Therefore, if you want to avoid getting blisters you need to keep batting regularly.
You hands will get a harder layer of skin over the top and calluses will form. This thicker layer of skin provides more protection to the lower layers and prevents friction from causing fluid build-up.
If you have not batted in a long time, make sure you ease yourself back into it and don’t go too hard at once. The worst blisters I have ever had were when I hadn’t played much baseball in the offseason and then hit training pretty hard in spring. My hands weren’t used to the friction and I blistered up within a day.
Slowly work your way up until you are batting most days, and you’ll be surprised how much your hands can take once you’ve trained them to toughen up.
2. Shave Down Calluses
Once your skin has gotten harder, the main problem baseball players face is that calluses grow too big and eventually get pulled off. This is painful and exposes fresh skin that then needs to toughen up all over again.
To help prevent this from happening, shave down your calluses. That being said, it is important not to over-shave or you could end up taking off the whole thing, exposing soft and sensitive skin again. Therefore, follow these tips to make sure you’re shaving the right way:
- Only shave once per week – This means you won’t overdo the shaving and can easily keep track of your last shave
- Shave the evening before you have a day off from training – Give your hands a day to recover in case you do accidentally shave too much off
- Always use a sharp razor – Blunt razors can make shaving painful and can cause the whole callus to come off if you catch it at the wrong angle
- Don’t press down too hard – The skin is tough so you will need to press down hard, but go lightly at first so you can achieve the right pressure
You can also make sure you moisturize daily to prevent your hands from drying up too much.
3. Wear Two Pairs of Batting Gloves
Another technique I use to prevent blisters is by wearing two pairs of batting gloves. Usually, you’ll only need to wear a second glove on your bottom hand as this is where most of the blisters will form.
This can give extra cushioning and prevents friction in your skin. Instead, the top glove has friction against the bottom glove so fewer blisters form.
4. Apply Cushioning for Batting Practice
You can also give your palms a break by putting some cushioning over the areas of you hands that are prone to blistering. For me, I often get blisters at the base of my palm on the opposite side to my thumb. To apply cushioning:
- Purchase some padding bandages – You can pick these up from your local pharmacy
- Cut the bandage – Cut a piece of bandage the same size as the area you usually get blisters
- Tape in place – Use first aid tape and wrap it around your hand to secure the padding in place
You can then wear your glove over the top as usual and this will protect you hand from the bat’s friction.
I wouldn’t recommend applying cushioning every time you play as your skin will lose its toughness and you’ll become reliant on the padding. It can also feel a little uncomfortable, which you don’t want in an important game. Therefore, if you have a game or general practice, give it a miss.
However, if you have batting practice where you know you’ll be making hundreds of swings, this is a good technique to use for added protection.
5. Switch Up Your Bat & Grip
If you have tried all these prevention methods but still keep getting blisters, try using a different bat.
For me personally, using a wooden bat leaves me with more painful blisters than using a metal bat. For you, the opposite might be true. Switch it up and see if playing with a different bat helps solve the issue.
How you hold the bat also affects how many blisters you get. Play around with your hand placement and see if this makes batting more comfortable. I find my moving my grip on the bat slightly higher, I get fewer blisters around the base of my hand.
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The Take Home Message
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And there we have it guys, my complete guide on how to treat and prevent blisters from batting. Here are the key take-home points to remember:
- Only pop your blister if it is extremely painful
- Always disinfect the blister and surrounding skin and cover to avoid infection
- Prevent blisters through practice, shaving your calluses, wearing two gloves, applying padding, or changing your bat
- Everyone’s hands are different so you need to find a prevention method that works for you!
Blisters are, unfortunately, a part of baseball and something that all batters face. Ultimately, as a baseball player, you will experience painful blisters at some point.
However, using these tips and tricks can help you treat and prevent blisters so that they do not affect that all-important game.