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Can Bike Riding Cause Blisters on Your Hand?

Can Bike Riding Cause Blisters on Your Hand?

Overview

Developing blisters on your hands or fingers is common among bike riders. Mountain bikers and dirt bikers, who firmly grip their handlebars and struggle to keep control of their bikes over rough terrain, are particularly susceptible. Other than minor risk of infection, blisters are not generally a serious concern. They are, however, painful. They interfere with the enjoyment of bicycling, whether you ride for fun, transportation, stress relief, or exercise.

Causes

Blisters are a skin reaction to prolonged pressure or friction. The outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, separates from the layer beneath, which is called the dermis. Lymph fluid, a watery substance, accumulates in the space between the layers. Hands and feet are the most common site for blister formation. For bicyclists, tightly gripping the bike's handlebars can cause blisters to form on the hands and fingers, particularly if you aren't a regular rider. Blisters are more likely if you ride over bumpy terrain and use a firm grip to hold the wobbling handlebars straight.

Treatment

Avoid puncturing the skin over a blister on your hand. The bubble of skin insulates the injury from dirt and bacteria, protecting against infection. Keep it covered with an adhesive bandage. Until it heals, don't ride your bike if the blister is too painful. As an alternative, hold the handlebars differently to prevent further aggravation of the blister. Just make sure you can still safely operate your bike.

If the blister on your hand is extremely painful, you can drain it. Wash the area with soap and warm water, then dab it with rubbing alcohol. Sterilize a clean needle with rubbing alcohol and use it to prick a tiny hole in the blister near its edge. Let the fluid drain out, then clean the blister with an antibacterial agent. Cover it with a bandage.

Prevention

Regular bike riding that causes blisters will probably eventually yield calluses in the affected places. These areas of hardened skin typically don't blister. Snugly fitting bicycle gloves are an easy way to prevent blisters on your hands, too. As an alternative to gloves, you can wear an adhesive bandage over spots on your hands that react to the pressure or friction of bicycling. If your palms sweat while you ride, you're far more likely to develop blisters. Carry a small hand towel to keep them dry, or coat them with baby powder.

Warning

Blisters can become more of a concern if they become infected. Improperly caring for a blister on your hand can lead to infection. Monitor the injury for pus, redness, swelling, increasing pain and warm skin. These are common signs of infection and should prompt a visit to your doctor. Also, blisters that grow larger than a your thumbprint or that become contaminated with foreign matter need medical attention.

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