8 Blister Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Feet Pain-Free
Posted by Jenn F. on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Blisters are small fluid-filled pockets that form between the superficial layers of skin due to friction from socks and shoes. Other reasons for blistering may include allergic reactions, dermatitis, chicken pox,eczema, herpes virus, insect bites or other skin trauma. People with a hereditary condition called epidermolysis bullosa are more prone to skin blistering than others. Though blisters are a common issue, we find patients are not well-informed about how to properly care for and treat a blister. So, in this post, the gang here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC brings you 8 Do’s and Don’ts for blister treatment.
DO: Understand what caused your blister.
“Since other medical conditions can also cause blistering, if you can’t identify what caused the blister, see your doctor for an evaluation before treating the blister on your own,” advises NYC podiatrist Dr. Katherine Lai. Sweat and friction are the most likely culprits behind a throbbing blister, but finding the root cause will determine which course of action is pursued to prevent future blistering.
DON’T: Remove the skin.
“Do not remove or peel off the loose skin covering the blister,” Manhattan podiatrist Dr. Nadia Levy warns. “This exposes the blister to infection. Your skin acts as a natural Band-Aid.” A foot doctor can use a sterile instrument to make a small hole and drain the fluid safely, she adds.
DO: Attack moisture issues.
Excessively wet or extremely dry feet can contribute to blister development. If you have sticky feet, try a product like Gold Bond Triple Action Medicated Foot Powder and wear moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry. On the other hand, if your feet tend to be overly dry, use skin cream like HikeGoo. Some runners even coat their feet in Vaseline.
DON’T: Suffer for beauty.
Though you hate to admit it, your love of fashionable shoes may be the culprit behind your foot blisters. Is beauty worth feeling crippled for a few days? There are so many choices out there. Look for shoes made of a natural, breathable material. Beware of straps that will rub into your flesh once your feet swell after a day of walking or standing. Give yourself a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the toe box. Your toes should be able to wiggle comfortably. Buy socks that fit smoothly and don’t bunch around the toes or heels.
DO: Protect areas of your feet that are prone to rubbing.
There are many possible skin/shoe buffers available on the market, including: Band-Aid Active Friction Block Stick, Blister Band-Aids, Foot Petals cushioning inserts, 2nd Skin Gel Squares, or a Moleskin roll. These products work wonders to prevent skin injuries!
DON’T: Pop a small blister.
As tempting as it may be, it’s best to let a small blister heal naturally – especially if it’s not causing you any real pain. Covering the area with one of the aforementioned products can keep a sterile environment surrounding the blister and allowing it a chance to heal on its own. Popping a small blister could cause bleeding and infection. There are many factors affecting the healing process, such as the location and severity of the blister, as well as your body’s natural healing abilities, but generally you can expect the blister to clear up within seven to 10 days.
DO: Pop a large blister the right way.
Large blisters are a whole other story. Bulging, uncomfortable blisters that affect walking or running should be drained. First, wash your hands and sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol or betadine. Don’t put the needle in a flame, as this can cause carbon particles to get into your skin and irritate the wound. Then use the needle to gently pierce the blister and press lightly to drain the fluid. You can also soak the foot in Epsom salts to draw out fluid. Afterwards, dab it with antiseptic ointment and put a bandage around the area. Change the wound wrapping daily until the skin has healed.
DON’T: Burst a blood blister.
A blood blister results when blood vessels beneath the skin are ruptured, causing blood, lymph and other fluids to pool beneath the skin. The color is usually very dark red, sometimes black. Sometimes these blisters take on a hardened appearance. It’s best not to pop these blisters, as premature eruption can cause a serious infection. Instead, let the blood blister dry out and heal naturally. You can apply an ice pack to the wound if it is painful and apply antibiotic cream, keeping the top of the blister covered.
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.