Rowing Blisters

Blisters are a common part of rowing. Many seasoned rowers will tell you to just deal with it. But is there a better way to avoid getting rowing blisters next time you are out on the water with your crew?

What are rowing blisters?

Rowing blisters are blisters that occur during rowing either on a boat or kayak or on a rowing machine. There are two common types of rowing blisters that occur: blisters on the hand and blisters on the buttocks. Blisters on the hand occur due to the constant friction between the skin of your hand and the oar used in rowing, this could be due to overuse or having too tight of a grip. Blisters on the buttocks occur due to the constant friction between your buttocks on the seat while rowing. Both of these types of blisters are accelerated and can become worse if your skin is wet. 

How to prevent rowing blisters?

Blisters are a very common part of rowing and many life-long rowers will say that forming blisters build up the toughness of the skin and thus makes you a better rower. However, preventing rowing blisters can go a long way towards making your career in rowing go a lot smoother. Having a loose grip can prevent blisters on the hand, and wearing gloves can go along way towards preventing more blisters in the future or to keep blisters that have already formed from reopening and potentially getting infected. 

Blisters on the buttocks can be prevented by using Body Glide® balms. Skin Glide® cream is specially formulated to reduce friction between skin on skin contact or skin on clothing contact that can lead to rowing blisters and chafing. Just one application of Skin Glide® cream along the buttocks will prevent blisters and chafing from forming in this area, keeping you in the seat longer. 

How to properly treat a rowing blister?

If you feel the need to drain the blister, consider contacting a health professional. If you are unable to and feel you really need to drain it (which should be your last resort!) here’s how to do it safely.

  • Wash your hands and the blister with warm water and soap.
  • Swab the blister and area with an antiseptic like iodine or rubbing alcohol.
  • Sterilize a clean and sharp needle by wiping it with an antiseptic.
  • Gently puncture the blister in a few spots near the blister edge. Let the fluid drain (applying very gentle pressure if necessary) and do not remove the overlying skin.
  • Immediately apply an antibiotic ointment to the area and cover with a bandage or gauze.
  • After several days, you can cut away the dead skin using sterilized scissors and tweezers.
  • Apply more ointment and a bandage or gauze when returning to rowing.
  • Seek medical advice immediately if you notice redness, pus, warm or inflamed skin or increasing pain as these could all be signs of a serious infection.

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