For the first installment in my ‘Ballerina Hacks’ category of blog posts, I decided to share a tip for blood blisters. Why? I had the honor of acquiring one myself last night during class! To be honest, even though I hate blisters as much as the next dancer, I was so excited to see that I got one! I know it sounds strange, but blisters have always been a sign of hard work for me, of not giving up…I can feel when I am getting a blister, because as any ballet dancer would know, it hurts; but there is some sense of satisfaction that I get when I pull off my pointe shoes after a hard class and see the blood-soaked tights (and shoes) that confirm my suspicions of a blister I had while dancing, and knowing that I pushed through the entire class without complaining, without compromising my technique, without giving up. But yesterday’s blister was welcomed even more graciously than normal. You see, I did the math, and I realized that I have not been en pointe for a little under 6 months total time (thanks to recovery from the sprain in May and then from the Fracture in August!) – that’s an incredibly long time! Of course, pain, cramping, blisters…that is to be expected when returning to point after such a long break from an injury. As strange as it sounds, actually seeing the blister made me so happy, because I would rather be dancing with blisters every day rather than have to take so long off for a major injury! I guess the blister just emphasized that I really am back dancing like my old self again 🙂
Cheerfulness aside, there’s no denying the difficulty in dancing with a blister. Ballet dancers are notorious for having a high pain tolerance (or maybe just having the discipline to ignore the pain and keep going). Still, blisters stink, and they hurt! I don’t care how high a pain tolerance you have, there has to be some discomfort when dancing on an open blister.
On my way out from ballet yesterday, I turned to my teacher and told her truthfully that it has been so long since I’ve been on pointe that I don’t even remember what to do with it when I get home! And thus, she reminded me about the old trick they used to do over in Kiev when she was a student. And this, my dear readers, is the Ballerina Hack I will share with you today!
So – you worked extremely hard in class today, and you had the pleasure of taking of your shoes only to find that your tights are no longer pink, but red instead! Congratulations, you have a blood blister! Now what?
First things first: Take a shower — a fair warning, the blister will hurt and sting in the hot water, but just close your eyes and let it burn for a bit and before you know it, the burning sensation will have lessened or ceased completely.
After taking a shower and making sure the blister is clean, apply a thin layer of neosporin. After all, this is an open wound; besides actually lessening the discomfort associated with the blister and trying to aid the healing process, our priority is also preventing infection. An open wound such as a blood blister is most definitely susceptible to infection. So don’t skip the cleaning, and don’t skip the neosporin!
This is the cool part: You know the thin membranous layer right on the underside of an eggshell? You’re going to put that right over your blister, to act as a second skin. Crack an egg, and carefully remove as much of the ‘skin’ as you can. It can be difficult to get a large enough piece with one go, so you might opt to take the papier-mâché route and just layer several pieces of the ‘skin’ until you’ve covered the entire blister area and have used all the ‘skin’ you can get from inside of the egg.
Once your blister is entirely covered in egg ‘skin’, measure and cut a piece of pointe shoe ribbon to fit around the affected toe. Shiny-side-down, wrap the ribbon around the ‘skin’-covered blister, and sew the ends together tightly; the egg will dry and the ribbon will hold it in place, provided you have sewn it nice and snug (Tip: don’t sew it too tight, otherwise you will cut off your circulation and wake up with a numb toe! You want it just tight enough to hold everything in place).
And that’s it! You’re done! You can keep it on throughout your dance classes the next day. The membranous layer of the egg that we placed on top of the blister will act as just that — a membrane. Your skin is a membrane layer. So, this is a way to make a pseudo-skin to substitute for the skin that chaffed off when you got that blood blister. Happy dancing!