Here are some top tips from St John Ambulance, which we hope you won’t need!


Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that look like bubbles on the skin. They usually form when someone’s skin repeatedly rubs against something or is exposed to heat.

When someone gets a blister, the part of the skin that is damaged leaks fluid that collects under the top layer of the skin, forming the blister.

What to look for

Most blisters heal themselves within a few days. But seek medical help if:

  • they are extremely painful
  • you think they may be infected, or
  • they keep coming back

What you need to do

  • If someone has a blister, don’t burst it as this can increase the risk of infection.
  • Wash the skin around the blister with clean water.
  • Gently pat the skin dry with a sterile gauze pad or a clean, non-fluffy material.

If the blister was caused by something rubbing against the skin, cover it with a plaster – ideally a special blister plaster, as these have a cushioned pad that gives extra protection.

  • If you get a blister, leave well alone if it’s unbroken
  • If it’s broken or likely to be damaged, cover with a dry, non-adhesive dressing that extends well beyond the edges of the blister
  • Do not break or cover a blister with any creams or lotions
  • To avoid blisters, make sure your running shoes are a good fit and don’t use the Marathon as an opportunity to break-in new shoes!


What to look for

If the bleeding doesn’t stop, or if there’s a foreign object in the cut, or you think it might be infected, then you should tell them to see a health care professional.

What to do

  • Clean the wound by rinsing it under running water or using alcohol-free wipes.
  • Pat it dry using a gauze swab and cover it with sterile gauze. If you don’t have these, then use a clean, non-fluffy cloth.
  • Raise and support the part of the body that’s injured. If it’s a hand or arm, raise it above the head. If it’s a lower limb, lay them down and raise the cut area above the level of the heart. This will help stop the bleeding.
  • Remove the gauze covering the wound and apply a sterile dressing.

If you think there’s any risk of infection then suggest they see a health care professional.


Dehydration happens when someone loses more fluid than they take in.

Young children and older people are likely to get dehydrated more easily, so it’s especially important for them to drink plenty of water.

Someone will normally get dehydrated after sweating a lot ‒ usually from exercise, being in hot conditions for a long time, or having a fever.

If you lose fluids through severe diarrhoea and vomiting, this can also cause dehydration.

If left untreated, someone with dehydration can develop heat exhaustion, which is more serious, so it’s important to make sure they rehydrate themselves as soon as possible.

What to look for

There are four key things to look for if someone is suffering from dehydration:

  1. Headaches and light headedness
  2. Dry mouth, eyes and lips
  3. Small amounts of dark urine
  4. Muscle cramps

What you need to do

  • Help them to sit down and give them plenty of water to drink.
  • Giving them an oral rehydration solution to drink will help replace salt and other minerals which they’ve lost – you can buy this in sachets from any pharmacy.
  • If they have any painful cramps, encourage them to rest, help them stretch and massage their muscles that hurt.
  • Keep checking how they’re feeling – if they still feel unwell once they’re rehydrated then encourage them to see a doctor straight away.

Knee joint injuries

  • If you injure your knee, lie down and support your knee in a raised position.
  • Put an ice pack on it or a cold compress
  • Put soft padding around it and bandage it in place these actions will minimise swelling
  • Go to Accident and Emergency
  • Don’t try to walk on the leg or straighten the knee
  • Don’t eat or drink anything in case you need an anaesthetic.

Nipple bleeding

  • This is caused by friction damaging the skin
  • You can prevent this by covering nipples with plasters or petroleum jelly
  • If they bleed, wash and dry carefully and cover with a plaster, but do not use waterproof plasters
  • Sometimes, nipple bleeding may be due to more serious problems. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

Strains and sprains

Strains and sprains are common injuries which affect the soft tissues around joints – the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

They happen when the tissues are stretched, twisted or torn by violent or sudden movements, for instance if someone changes direction suddenly, or falls and lands awkwardly.

A sprain is when a ligament has been twisted or torn.

A strain is when the muscle has been overstretched and has partially torn. (A rupture is when a muscle or tendon is completely torn).

What to look for

If you think you or someone else may have strained or sprained a muscle, ligament or tendon, these are the three key things to look for:

  1. Pain and tenderness
  2. Difficulty moving
  3. Swelling and bruising

What you need to do

Remember RICE for the four steps to deal with strains and sprains:

Rest- Help them to sit or lie down and support in a comfortable raised position the part they’ve hurt.

Ice- To cool the area, apply a cold compress, like an ice pack or cold pad. This will help to reduce the swelling, bruising and pain. Do not leave on for more than ten minutes.

Comfortable support- Leave the cold compress in place or wrap a soft layer of padding, e.g. cotton wool, around the area. Tie a support bandage around it, to hold it in place, which goes up as far as the next joint on each side. For example, for an ankle injury, the bandages should go from the base of the toes to the knees.

Elevation- Elevate the injury and support it with something soft, like cushions. If the pain is severe, or they can’t use their limb at all, take or send them to hospital. Otherwise, just tell them to rest it and to see a health care professional, if necessary.