Resisting Blisters and Helping Them Heal

James W. Rust
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Life is full of barriers, but some of them are necessary and good. That fence around your garden helps keep critters from devouring your beautiful produce. A mask and gloves worn by surgeons and nurses help keep germs away from vulnerable patients. Gardening gloves protect your hands when working with weeds and soil. In a similar way, your skin is often your first line of defense against injury and infection, and it can suffer for that. In trying to protect the underlying tissue from damage, it can be scraped, burned, or cut, and blisters can form.

What Causes Blisters?

There are many different reasons your skin may form these little bubbles of fluid on the surface. They can be caused by burns or frostbite, infections like chicken pox or cold sores, reactions to chemicals or medications, even insect bites. The most common reason they develop on your feet is friction. This often happens when shoes don’t fit properly or have seams or bumps that irritate a certain spot on your foot. There are some actions you can take to help you resist this small but potentially serious injury.

3 Tips for Avoiding Blisters on Your Feet

  • Good shoes and socks prevent blisters!

    Condition your skin. While sweaty feet can increase friction, feet that are too dry can also be a problem, so make sure you keep the skin on your feet soft and smooth with moisturizers. Some people even put a protective layer of petroleum on their feet before running to reduce direct friction on the skin.
  • Choose good socks. You want the kind that absorbs moisture and also draws it away from your skin. Cotton does the first part well, but stays too damp, so synthetic fibers are usually better. Reinforcement in the toes and heels can also reduce friction. You can also try wearing a thin pair and another over it, so the friction happens between the two socks.
  • Make sure your shoes fit well. Your toes need some room so they are not rubbing against the fronts of your shoes or sliding around by the heel. Check that there are no seams that could rub against your skin, and there is enough cushioning to reduce friction on your soles.

Treatment Protocols for Blisters

If the bubble is small, whether it is filled with clear fluid or blood, it is best to leave it alone to heal. You could try to protect the area with a donut-shaped pad, so there is not further damage. Otherwise, cleaning the area with mild soap and water, patting it dry, and applying a simple dab of antibiotic cream and a bandage is usually all that is needed. This should be done often enough to keep the area clean, dry, and protected.

For larger blisters that are painful, it may be better to release the fluid or blood to relieve the pain. To do this, first wash your hands and the site well. Then take a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and wipe a needle to sterilize it. Carefully make a couple of small pokes along the edge of the bubble and press gently to expel the fluid. Follow with an antibiotic gel, and bandage securely to keep bacteria out.

Watch the area to make sure there are no signs of infection: redness, swelling, pus, or red streaks going away from the area. Any of these make it important to call our office and have your injury checked. If you have diabetes, or a compromised immune system from disease or cancer treatments, do not try to treat a large blister on your own: the risk of infection is too great. We can safely treat it with sterile tools and stronger antibiotics, if needed.

Call one of the Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates offices in east Florida today for an appointment—Daytona Beach: (386) 274-3336, Edgewater: (386) 957-4818, Orange City: (386) 775-2281, Palm Coast: (386) 586-7373, or Port Orange: (386) 788-6333. Our expert staff stands ready to help you restore your feet and skin to prime condition.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net