Treating Your Blister
Although most blisters eventually heal on their own, the recovery time required isn’t a feasible option for those who are active or experiencing pronounced pain. It is important to know the right methods of treatment to remain healthy and to prevent your blister from getting worse.
What Causes a Blister?
Blisters occur when temperatures rise, causing the feet to swell and sweat. This results in additional friction formed between the feet and shoes, creating a fluid-filled sac around the affected area.
Treating An Unbroken Blister
The treatment method depends on where the blister is located and its level of severity. An unbroken blister or a blood blister will heal on its own. All that is required is a bandage to protect it, and avoidance of the activities which caused or may aggravate it.
For a small blister on a weight-bearing area (such as the heel, or the ball of the foot a doughnut-shaped felt pad should be applied. Leave the area above the blister open as much as possible.
In most cases, popping a blister at home is not advised. If it is too painful, however, follow these steps to drain it safely:
- Wash both your hands and the blister with soap and warm water.
- Swab the blister with iodine.
- Take a needle or a straight pin and wipe it with rubbing alcohol.
- Gently puncture the edge of the blister.
- Press the fluid toward the hole to drain it out.
Never drain a blister, no matter how small it may be, if the following is true:
- You have diabetes, cancer, HIV, heart disease, or another condition which increases the risk of infection.
- You have reason to believe that the blister was caused by a contagious disease, such as chickenpox. If you drain this type of blister, the virus may spread to other people.
Treating a Torn (Or Drained) Blister
Once the blister has torn or drained, follow these steps:
- Wash the area with soap and water – not alcohol, iodine, or any other cleanser.
- Leave the flap of skin over the blister, unless there is dirt or pus under it. Smooth the flap over the exposed layer of skin.
- Apply antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin or Triple antibiotic ointment and then a clean bandage. If an itch or rash develops, discontinue the ointment, since there may be a skin reaction.
- Change the bandage whenever it becomes wet or dirty, and remove it every night so the affected area can dry. If you are going to remain active as the blister heals, you may find Band Aid blister cushions or 2nd Skin blister pads particularly helpful.
When To Call a Doctor
Call your doctor if the following occur:
Monitor the area closely for signs of an infection. These may include: increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth surrounding the blister; red streaks extending from the blister; drainage of pus; or fever.
Call your doctor if you notice these symptoms:
- A crusty blister which drains honey-colored fluid.
- Signs of illness, such as shaking chills, fever, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle or joint aches, headaches, or a vague sense of illness.
- Symptoms do not improve, or increase in severity and/or frequency.
Since blisters are caused by the friction between your feet and your shoes, wear shoes that fit well. This means that you should be able to wiggle your toes inside the shoe. Your feet swell later in the day, so try on shoes in the afternoon or the evening.
Moisture-wicking socks help reduce the swelling of the feet and friction associated with blisters. There are other socks and insoles designed to prevent blistering as well.
Applying moleskin to an area of the shoe where your feet rub may also help. Dust the inside of your shoe with talcum powder.
Avoid contact with plants like poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
Avoid contact with people who have infections that can cause blisters, such as:
- Viral illness like chickenpox, shingles, genital herpes infection, and cold sores
- Bacterial skin infection
- Scabies mite infection
Ask the Expert
To learn more about keeping your feet healthy, read the 15 Steps to Fabulous Summer Feet.
For the best in foot care, schedule an appointment with specialist Dr. Vikki or Dr. Connie at the Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center today.