Blisters are, in the grand scheme of things, often considered a minor nuisance. Almost everybody deals with them from time to time, often after a big day of walking or a little too much athletic competition. And in most cases, they can be managed at home.
However, it’s wise not to underestimate blisters, particularly if you get them frequently or if you have any potentially complicating conditions such as diabetes or poor circulation. The last thing you want is a “minor” blister turning into a source of significant pain, or even a dangerous infection.
Knowing the appropriate steps you should take, and when to get a podiatrist involved, can help ensure quick and complete healing—as well as stop them from returning again and again.
What Are Blisters and Why Do They Form?
A blister is a small pocket of fluid that develops in the upper layers of skin, creating a distinctive, raised “bubble” on the surface. When the upper layers of skin become damaged, they may separate from the layers underneath, creating a pocket that fills up with fluid. This fluid (serum) is usually clear, but in some cases the blister may fill with blood (blood blisters) or, if the blister becomes infected, pus.
The most common cause of blisters on feet and ankles is friction. Common contributing factors include:
- Wearing poorly fitting shoes
- Excessive moisture or perspiration on feet and in shoes
- Standing or walking for long periods of time
Other possible causes of blisters include severe sunburns, frostbite, allergic reactions, chemical reactions, and more.
Do I Need to See a Podiatrist About My Foot Blister?
If your blister is an isolated incident and you are otherwise a healthy individual, you will likely be able to care for your blister at home. Scroll down the page for more information about the proper procedures you should follow.
We do, however, recommend you call us if any of the following circumstances apply:
- You have a condition that puts you at greater risk of infections or complications. This includes things like diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, or poor circulation
- Your blister is showing signs of infection. This includes severe pain, a warming sensation, a foul odor, drainage of pus, feverish symptoms.
- You frequently get blisters in the same area of your foot or ankle. This is a clear sign of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. If you can’t figure out what’s causing your blister, we can help.
- Your blister is not getting better within a few days, or worsens over time. Most blisters will disappear within a week if they are properly cared for.
How to Treat Your Foot Blister
If your blister is still intact, do your best to leave it that way unless it is causing you severe discomfort. Blisters heal better and are less likely to become infected if you can avoid breaking the skin.
Small blisters can usually be covered with a regular bandage. For a larger one, you may need to cut a hole in a moleskin pad and place the pad so that it’s surrounding the blister. In either case, you can increase the amount of protection further by covering the bandage or moleskin with gauze.
If your blister is severely painful or likely to burst, safely draining it may be the better solution. Do not “pop” your blister! Instead:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Wash the blister with soap and water, then swab it with iodine
- Use rubbing alcohol to sterilize a clean, sharp needle.
- Poke a few small holes along the outside edge of the blister and slowly, carefully drain the fluid.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with a non-stick bandage. Do not remove the skin!
- Change bandages daily, checking for infection each time.
Again, in either case, you should expect your blister to heal within one week. If the blister is not getting better, getting worse, or showing signs of infection, call our office immediately!
Don’t Let Foot Blisters Keep Slowing You Down!
If you need help with a current foot or ankle blister, give Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates a call.
We can ensure your blister gets the care and protection it needs to heal, in a safe and sterile environment. And if you need help troubleshooting the underlying causes of your blister, so that they stop happening so frequently, we can help you with that too!
You can reach our Enumclaw office by dialing (360) 761-1285, or by using our handy online contact form.