Infections from Blisters – A Serious Condition

December 3, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Health, Sports 

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips is a monthly email newsletter from her website at Backpack45.com. Susan and her husband Ralph have done hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Camino de Santiago, and more. Every month I review her newsletter for tips and information that I can share with my readers. I encourage you to check out her website and subscribe to her newsletter.

Only once before in the 15 plus years of publishing an email newsletter and this blog have I shared information that has the potential to save a life. Please read on and take this information to heart.

In the December newsletter, Susan shared a story they experienced while hiking the John Muir Trail. They met a hiker with a sobering tale he shared with them. He and his wife had reached Palisades Lake when she was suddenly hit with nausea, fever, and weakness. Initially he thought it was exhaustion, but the next morning his wife was worse so they did a layover day. She was even worse the following day so they decided to exit at Bishop.

His wife became so weak that she could no longer walk – even without her pack and with help. She collapsed on the attempt to descend the Golden Staircase. Her vitals were a temperature of 105, blood pressure of 90/50, a resting pulse 135 – and she was unaware of her surroundings. He and two others tried to carry her out, but found it impossible because of the narrow trail. A helicopter was brought in and she was airlifted out in a basket to Deer Meadow, where she was put inside the helicopter and taken to the hospital.

The Alcorn’s met the husband as they were leaving the John Muir Trail over Bishop Pass. He was going out on the east side and then going to find a way over to the hospital in Fresno. We wondered for days how this had played out and were happy when they heard a subsequent report. After four days in the hospital on antibiotics, the lady was ready to be flown home – not entirely well, but no longer in danger. The hospital did not do tests to determine the cause, but only treated symptoms, so the cause of the problem was up for speculation. Her husband thought that an infection had probably entered her blood through blisters in her feet – most likely the source was open blisters and their soak in hot springs.

Susan says, This is a reminder of the importance of avoiding infection in any open sore – especially under trail conditions.

Cari's Blister Infected Foot

Cari’s Blister Infected Foot

I agree. In 2007 I wrote an article about another hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail who had to be evacuated out and spend a long time recuperating from a serious infection. Her infection was also caused by an infection through an open blister. This first photo shows her infected foot after she reached the hospital.

Bacteria causing the infection can come from your skin, from the environment, or from anything that gets inside the blister. The web spaces between the toes have more skin bacteria and open blisters here present an increased risk of infection. The second photo shows the redness common to an infection.

An Infected Blister

An Infected Blister

The take-away here is that we need to understand how to properly clean and care for blisters, have the right materials to patch them, and know the signs of infection.

All open blisters should be watched for redness, streaks up the leg, pus, heat to the touch, pain and/or swelling around the area, and fever. When any of these are present, prompt medical care should be obtained.

In my 2007 Fixing Your Feet newsletter I wrote, I think this is the most serious and important issue yet. It has in-depth focus on infections as a result of blisters. First read my editorial, Blisters Can Lead to Serious Infection, and then the feature article, My Infected Blister – Almost My Life! where Cari Tucker “Sandals” tells her story. I think you’ll agree with Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen, who told me, ‘This is indeed sobering and shocking (literally). I think people need to see this because I do not think they take blisters very seriously!’ I urge you to fully digest the articles, then read the articles on Blood Blisters and Infections, Staph Facts and Cellulitis Facts.

Here’s the link to the July 2007 Fixing Your Feet newsletter with the articles.

 

The Most Important Issue of my Fixing Your feet Ezine

July 25, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Last Friday I released the July issue of my Fixing Your Feet Ezine. If you are active and want to take good care of your feet, I urge you to read this issue. I have pasted the summary of the newsletter below so you can see the focus.

FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine – Blisters with Blood, and Staph and Cellultis Infections, and a lot more

This is a huge issue – almost 14 pages before formatting. However, in the seven years of publishing this newsletter, I think this is the most serious and important issue yet. It has in-depth focus on infections as a result of blisters. First read my editorial, Blisters Can Lead to Serious Infection, and then the feature article, My Infected Blister – Almost My Life! I think you’ll agree with Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen, who told me, “This is indeed sobering and shocking (literally). I think people need to see this because I do not think they take blisters very seriously!” I urge you to fully digest the articles, then read the articles on Blood Blisters and Infections, Staph Facts and Cellulitis Facts.
     The issue also has several foot care products, a link to a video of my lancing a huge toe blister on YouTube, a Bad Feet photo and story, and reader feedback.

When Blisters Go Bad

June 15, 2006 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Footcare 

Blister on the feet are very common, whether on children, teens, or adults. They can occur from all types of footwear in all types of situations, from everyday activities to extreme sports. Occasionally, blister go bad.

2591234_cwank1web      Several years ago Hillary Swank was filming Million Dollar Baby and while training, developed a blister on one of her feet. She ignored it and it festered into a raging infection. Hillary ended up in the hospital for treatment. Ignoring the simple blister could have resulted in the loss of her foot from infection.

    Then last week, the British Medical Journal published evidence of two cases of children suffering toxic shock syndrome from blisters on their football boots. They describe two cases of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in children after playing football in new boots. Both developed friction blisters over their Achilles tendons. The blisters contained Staphylococcus aureus, which in one case was found to express the toxic shock syndrome gene (TSS1).

     In the first case, a 13-year-old girl developed friction blisters over both heels after playing a competitive game of football in new boots. She was admitted to her local hospital after developing a range of symptoms including fever, rash, abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension), vomiting and diarrhea. Further examination revealed a blister, 2cm in diameter, over each of her Achilles tendons containing the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus with the toxic shock syndrome gene (TSS1). A diagnosis of toxic shock syndrome was made and she was treated with antibiotics.

     In the second case, a healthy 11-year-old boy played football in a new pair of boots, causing a blister on his right heel. Over the next two days he developed fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and a rash. Within hours of admission to hospital, his condition deteriorated and his blood pressure fell. Again, pus from the blister on his heel contained Staphylococcus aureus. He also developed a secondary rash during convalescence.

     Toxic shock syndrome has become less common since the link with tampon use was recognised in the 1980s, write the authors. And in children, for whom this association does not apply, the syndrome is rare. But these cases show that the syndrome may follow relatively trivial skin trauma.

Images_8      The lesson here is that blisters are an injury and must be watched for signs of infection. I’d wager that 99.9999% of all blisters heal fine. But if that .0001% is on your foot, or on the foot of someone you know or love, you’d be more careful. Remember, happy feet are blister free feet.

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