Understanding and Preventing Foot Blisters
Foot blisters – no one thinks of them fondly. However, before you grumble about what an ugly annoyance they can be, it's important to first understand the purpose that they serve. Blisters are small bumps on our skin that are filled with a thick liquid that is serum, blood or pus. They arise when the skin is injured or raw, protecting the tender area so a fresh layer can grow.
Blisters develop for a number of reasons including first and second degree burns, as well as exposure to harmful chemicals (otherwise known as contact dermatitis). However, by far the most common reason for blisters on the feet is chafing. We've all had the experience of owning a pair of shoes that, after an hour of wearing them, starts to uncomfortably rub the back of our heels or big toe. This is perhaps one of the greatest culprits of creating blisters, as consistent friction can irritate and rub away the surface layer of skin.
Tips to Prevent Blisters
There are several ways to prevent blisters from forming on the feet. Effective prevention methods include:
- Always wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes. If you currently are experiencing a blister, try to give the area additional space to avoid "popping the bubble" or worsening the situation; if colder weather does not permit you to leave the area uncovered, find a shoe that has a looser fit, wide toe box and a soft interior, such as UGGs.
- Change out of shoes or socks that are damp, as moisture increases the likelihood of friction - causing blisters.
- Wear socks made from acrylic or other textiles that have the ability to absorb moisture. This is especially helpful for those who tend to sweat more than average. Thorlo Socks have been shown to absorb perspiration and provide more comfort during strenuous activities.
- Closed cell neoprene cushioning insoles, like many of the ones manufactured by Spenco, can diminish the unpleasant rubbing of the sides of your feet against the shoe.
- Apply talcum powder to reduce moisture and friction within your footwear.
- For additional protection, we recommend using moleskin.
While leaving your blisters intact has its obvious benefits, it isn't necessarily harmful to pop them. What's important is that you do so in a properly hygienic way to prevent infection. Below are suggestions about what to do to treat the blister, or if it has accidentally and prematurely popped.
- Before you do anything else, make sure your hands are freshly washed.
- Drain large blisters by cleaning a small needle with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Softly puncture the edge of the bubble and, once the liquid has seeped out, gently wash it before drying it and putting protective gauze or bandages over it. Make sure to use mild soaps and antibiotic cream, as rubbing alcohol and similarly harsh options can damage the vulnerable new layer of still-developing skin.
- Never remove the flap covering a broken blister unless it tears, as it will still help to shield the recovering area from dirt.
- Bandages should be changed daily and every time they get wet or dirty.