Blisters on Your Feet. Now What?
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, March 12th, 2012
[You sit staring at your foot. There is a small fluid filled bubble on your toe. It hurts. Now your internal monologue kicks in.]
.You: Hmmm…a blister. Dang it. I’ve had blisters before. What did I do? Well, one time I popped it open and drained it. That really, really hurt while it healed up. Then there was that time I just let it kind of sit, hoping it would pop on its own. Instead it just got all hard and nasty. That hurt too. What should I do?
Indeed, what should you do about blisters? They’re one of the most common injuries out there for anyone who runs or walks. They can knock you out of a marathon. They can make you miserable at a party. They can ruin a shopping trip or that cruise ship vacation. Anytime you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking, or find yourself wearing new shoes, blisters are lurking, waiting to pop out (literally) and get you. They’re usually more annoying than serious (well, there was that one blister I had that hurt so much I called my mom and asked if I should go to the emergency room–and I have a really high tolerance for pain–but I think that must have been infected or something). Even though we all get blisters, many people aren’t quite sure how best to treat them so as not to interrupt their walking or running schedule.
So today, let’s find out how to conquer blisters!
Now how exactly did I get this thing? Blisters on your feet are caused by friction as your skin rubs against some kind of material, most typically (for your feet) your shoes. You can also get them from socks that are bunched in an odd way or have weird edging of some sort (trust me, I’ve done it). Shoes that don’t fit right (yes, we’re there again) cause blisters. Wet feet are more likely to form blisters and wet material, such as wet socks, are more likely to cause them. If you are getting blisters on your feet and you can’t pinpoint them to one of these causes, you should definitely contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to find out what’s going on.
I have decided that I must break up with my blister, as it makes me unhappy and I just don’t see our relationship going anywhere. How should I do this? I know, you two tried to make it work, but sometimes you just have to realize that it’s time to put this thing to an end. If your blister is just a small little bump and doesn’t really hurt much, then your best course of action is to leave it alone and let it heal itself. You can put some protection over it, such as a light gauze bandage, or a doughnut-shaped piece of moleskin to relieve the pressure on it. After a few days, it will harden up and disappear.
If your blister is larger than an inch or really bulging with fluid, you can try to drain it yourself. Follow these steps:
- Blisters get infected very easily, so make sure your hands are clean and you’re working in a clean environment. Don’t do this in between working with raw meat. Don’t do this while swimming in the murky pond near the nuclear plant. Don’t wipe your blister with the same tissue you used to wipe your nose. Keep it all nice and clean.
- Sterilize a needle with alcohol, antibacterial soap, or by heating it in a flame (that’s what my dad used to do, but don’t do this if you’re skittish around flames or generally careless).
- Prick the blister with the needle to make a tiny, tiny opening; I usually try to do this near the edge of the blister, but it probably doesn’t really matter. Don’t make a big tear or a big hole. That skin is the only thing protecting the raw skin underneath, so you want to keep it as intact as possible.
- Press gently on the blister to force the fluid out. Keep pressing until the blister is flat and completely drained. Try to get it all out as your foot will still feel irritated if there is any left.
- Wipe off the blister with clean gauze. Apply some antibiotic ointment and cover with a band aid or piece of gauze. Change the covering every day or anytime it gets wet, dirty, or sweaty. The blister should heal up nicely in a few days. Be on the lookout for redness or pain that may indicate the area has become infected.
I’m glad my blister is gone. What can I do to make sure it doesn’t come back? See the causes above and do the reverse of them. Make sure your shoes fit and are broken in properly. Don’t wear wet shoes or walk around with wet feet inside your shoes. If you’re prone to blisters in certain areas of your feet and want to prevent them when you know you’re going to be doing a lot of walking or running, Gear Junkie recommends lubing up your foot with salve such as Hydropel, Bag Balm or Vaseline before putting on your sock, in order to cut down on the possibility of friction. You can also buy gel caps and pads to cover vulnerable areas of your feet. Gear Junkie also notes that some tough hiker types will solve a blister problem on the trail by “draining a blister, squeezing super glue under the skin flap, and sealing it shut with duct tape and tincture of benzoin.” Yikes. I’m okay with duct tape (who isn’t okay with the wonders of duct tape?!) but I don’t know about putting super glue on my foot… You are a better hiker than I am if you can sit down and do that without gluing your hand to your foot.
Congratulations–you’ve just passed Blister 101! I hope you feel more prepared to avoid blisters or treat them if you can’t. However, if you do continue to have problems with blisters or other issues with your feet, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.