Whether you're an occasional hiker, a marathon runner, or just like to wear cute shoes to work, chances are that you've had a few foot blisters in your lifetime. Blisters on your feet are very common; however, they can be very painful and take a while to heal. Fortunately, blisters are often preventable with home remedies and over-the-counter solutions.
This article will describe what blisters are, the causes of blisters on the feet, and the proper way to treat and help heal foot blisters. We'll also cover tips on how to prevent foot blisters while doing the activities you love and answer some of the most common questions people have about blisters on the feet.
What Are Foot Blisters?
Blisters are pockets of fluid that occur between layers of skin, forming a bubble from the outer layer of skin called the epidermis. Blisters are often the result of excess moisture, friction, and extreme temperatures, and they can be filled with pus or blood. While blisters may be uncomfortable and unsightly, they are a natural bodily response that prevents deeper skin tissues from suffering damage.
What Causes Foot Blisters?
Blisters can be caused by many different environmental and medical conditions, and they can appear on various parts of the body. But in this article, we're focusing exclusively on the feet. Here are some of the most common causes of foot blisters.
Friction is the most common cause of blisters on the feet because socks and shoes can rub up against the skin. That rubbing causes the skin to be worn down, tender, and blister-prone.
Frostbite of the feet and toes can also cause blisters to form. Frostbite occurs when the feet are exposed to very cold temperatures, and it doesn't necessarily take prolonged exposure to get frostbite. In places where the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit with a 15-mph wind, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes or less.
On the other end of the temperature spectrum, burns to the feet can cause blisters as well. If you step on something hot and your feet suffer a second-degree burn, you will likely see a blister form immediately. Blisters can develop from a first-degree burn as well, but these blisters often take a few days to appear.
Poor-fitting shoes are a major cause of blisters of the feet, and it's not just high heels that are to blame. In fact, any style of shoe that pinches the feet or that rubs in a sensitive area can cause blisters.
If your feet are exposed to harsh chemicals, blisters may form and cause extreme discomfort. Some people are more sensitive to chemicals than others, but soaps, detergents, bath products, and household cleaning products can all lead to blisters of the skin.
Blisters are also the result of excess moisture of the feet, as blisters thrive in warm, moist conditions. The inside of a sock or shoe is typically very moist because there are many sweat glands in the feet. Blisters of this type are very common among runners and other athletes during warm, humid seasons.
If you pinch your foot in a door or other tight surface, this may cause a blister as well. This is because blood vessels at the skin's surface can rupture and leak in between layers of skin. These types of blisters are filled with blood because of the injury.
Fungal or Bacterial Infection
If you step on an area that is contaminated with a fungus or bacteria, it's possible that your foot will become infected and blisters will form. Infections are also capable of spreading to multiple parts of the body.
A rarer cause of blisters on the soles of the feet is dyshidrotic eczema, which is a skin condition that has connections to both stress and allergies. This condition is most common during the spring allergy season, and the blisters tend to form around the edges of toes and feet. It can take a few weeks for dyshidrotic eczema blisters to dry up and heal.
How to Deal with Foot Blisters
The best answer to how to deal with foot blisters is to simply leave them alone. Blisters on the feet should usually be left intact to prevent infection and damage to the other layers of skin and tissue underneath them. Blisters will normally heal on their own over time as new skin grows underneath the blister and takes its place.
How to Treat Blisters on the Bottom of Your Feet
Blister treatment and even open blister care can often be performed at home in a convenient and affordable way without having to see a doctor. However, if a blister becomes infected or does not heal with natural and over-the-counter remedies, it is time to seek a professional opinion. But for in most cases, here's how to treat blisters on the bottom of your feet.
Bandages and Gauze
To protect a blister and allow it to heal, cover it up with a bandage or wrap it in gauze. It can be difficult to keep bandages on the feet due to sweat and wearing shoes. So wrapping gauze around a foot blister is often a more effective approach. Hydrocolloid dressings are an over-the-counter solution to promote blister healing and manage blister pain.
When you are home and not on your feet, remove the bandage or gauze to allow fresh air to reach your blister. This will reduce the amount of moisture on your feet and promote faster healing.
Rather than waiting for blisters to form before bandaging your feet, you can preemptively tape then to prevent blisters instead. Long-distance runners and other endurance athletes commonly tape their feet to protect the skin's surface from rubbing. Research has also shown that taping the feet can provide thermal insulation and spread the shear load when using stretchy tape.
Aloe vera is commonly used for sunburns, but its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make it excellent for foot blisters too. Much of the pain of a blister comes from the swelling, and aloe vera is known to reduce inflammation. You can either buy commercially packaged aloe or cut a leaf off an aloe plant in your home.
How to Prevent Foot Blisters
With proper foot care and a little knowledge, there are some very effective ways to prevent blisters from forming on the feet. Here are some tips for how to prevent foot blisters.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Wearing comfortable shoes that don't rub the skin or cause friction is a great way to prevent blisters. When you buy a new pair of shoes, wear them around the house for a few days before going outside. This way, you can test their comfort level and return the shoes back to the store if they feel uncomfortable.
Wear Clean Socks
It's also important to wear clean socks and change your socks as soon as possible if they become wet. This will prevent excess moisture on the feet and help prevent future blisters. Choose sports-style socks with extra moisture absorption for workouts and active days.
Place Moleskin Inside Shoes
If you absolutely love a pair of shoes that occasionally rub your feet the wrong way, try putting a piece of moleskin or padding in that spot before tossing them out. You can also find specialized friction patches that can be placed inside of shoes with enhanced slippage protection.
Use Foot Powder
Foot powder can be very effective in reducing friction between the skin of the feet and socks or shoes. This product is known to reduce sweating in the feet and allow the feet to glide in and out of shoes more smoothly.
Deodorant can do more than just keep your armpits from getting sweaty. Designate a foot-specific container of deodorant, and try rubbing it on your feet when they are dry and clean. This helps reduce friction if you don't have any foot powder in the medicine cabinet.
Natural Foot Care Products
Some lotions, soaps, and powders can cause allergic reactions and subsequent blisters. If you have begun to develop more blisters on your feet, think about any new products that you've started using to rule out the possibility of allergy triggers. Natural and chemical-free cosmetic products are often less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
You can find many different insoles in the foot aisle at your local pharmacy, but choose ones that are thick and that have good shock absorbency. A supportive pair of insoles can help to reduce the liklihood of blisters.
Rest and Stop Painful Activity
As soon as you notice foot pain while walking or exercising, stop to rest and take a look at your feet. It may help to take off your shoes or boots to remove any debris that has gotten inside. This is also a good time let your feet dry off from sweat and cool down so that the shoe environment is less conducive to blister formation.
Common Foot Blisters Questions
Now that you have a better understanding of what causes foot blisters and how to treat them, we're going to answer a few of the most common questions that people have about blisters on the feet and open blister care.
Should you pop a blister on your foot?
While it may be tempting to pop a blister on your foot to relieve the pain and get rid of the bulge, resist that urge. Blisters provide a necessary barrier of protection and help prevent infection. If you remove this protective barrier, bacteria can get into your open wound and cause serious problems.
Is there a safe way to drain a blister?
A trained medical professional can use a sterile needle to safely drain a blister. This may be necessary if a blister if not going away on its own. A fluid sample may be taken to rule out the possibly of an infection.
To drain your own blister at home, you should start by washing your hands with antibacterial soap and warm water. Then, disinfect a needle using a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol. Antiseptic should be used to clean the blister before making a small puncture in it with the needle. The fluid should fully drain out to facilitate proper open blister care. Finally, dab some antibacterial cream onto the blister and cover it with a bandage immediately.
How long does it take for a blister to heal?
When left to heal naturally, the average blister will heal on its own in about three to seven days.
What is the fluid in a blister?
Fluid in a blister is often pus, but it can also be blood, plasma, or serum. The type of fluid inside depends on how the blister was formed and where it is located on the body.
Why do my blisters hurt?
Blisters on the hands and feet tend to be particularly painful because they are the result of deep skin tissue shearing. There are many nerve endings in the feet, which causes intense pain signals to be sent to the brain.
Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.