A foot blister is a skin condition wherein lumps of fluid-filled skin are appearing on the sole or the heels of a person. Blisters are commonly caused by too much friction between your foot and a certain object that is rubbing against the skin, and these objects are typically footwear like shoes or sandals.
Friction usually occurs on your feet when the footwear is old, stiff, or poorly fitted, which makes your feet unable to rest within the shoes comfortably.
When there’s too much friction, the surface of your feet’s skin will suffer from severe shear stress, and as the surface continues to rub against a hard object in repeating motions, the cells that form the skin of your feet will start deteriorating. The deterioration leads to each cell’s plasma diffusing and developing excess fluid around the affected skin.
The fluid that comes from the destroyed cells is usually absorbed by the new cells that replace them. But sometimes, the skin containing the fluid would often get damaged or wounded, which causes the liquid to burst or flow out of the body. The wound will then get infected, and this would lead to much more severe problems as bacteria, and other harmful elements will start invading the skin of your foot.
While the foot is the most common body part of getting blisters, the hands are also prone to having the condition due to how it is primarily used to handle or touch objects that usually creates friction. Playing video games and fretting a guitar typically produces calluses at first, but once it gets worse due to aggressive and constant repeating motions, the calluses will develop into blisters.
Besides friction, foot blisters can also occur because of complications in a person’s skin. The second most common cause for blisters is extreme temperature, wherein boils would usually appear in third-degree burns, and frostbite shows to the skin affected by freezing temperatures. These temperatures would hinder the proper growth of skin cells, as these cells would only survive in a balanced temperature.
Another reason for the appearance of blisters is due to severe skin conditions like dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) and pemphigus, which are both caused by poor cell growth in the skin.
Those who are exposed to harmful chemicals can also get painful blisters on their skin that can be more difficult to treat that friction blisters due to how the chemical can stick on the skin’s surface. Some of the toxic chemicals that can produce blisters are solvent, detergent, and nickel sulfate. Urushiol, a chemical compound found in poison ivy and poison oak, can also cause blistering in the skin.
Prevention and Treatment
For friction blisters, one of the best ways to prevent your foot from getting it is by wearing correctly fitted shoes that are not too big and not too tight. This is the reason why people should know their correct shoe sizes, as the wrong size could lead to complications that are worse than blisters like bone deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.
Another excellent method to prevent blistering is by changing your socks at least once a day to avoid moisture buildup in your feet. Moisture or sweat often causes excessive fluid in your skin that could form bigger blisters, so wearing new or clean socks every day will get rid of the sweat built up by the previous pair of socks.
To further improve your feet’s protection against blisters, you should soft bandages specifically made to control friction between your foot and a shoe. Besides bandages, a fabric called moleskin is also useful in friction management, and this fabric is usually found in adhesive foot pads that you can easily buy in convenience stores or drug stores.
Moleskin is also helpful for those who already have foot blisters, as the fabric protects the blisters from friction and further damage if you are wearing shoes. However, if a foot blister gets very painful, it is recommended that you don’t wear any kind of shoes until the condition is fully healed.
Also, you should not pop or drain the liquid from the blister because this may lead to infection and inflammation. But a doctor may suggest popping a blister if it is too big and if it hampers your feet’s movement.
Doctors may sterilize a needle and use it to pierce the blister at the edge to drain the fluid. During the said procedure, you may notice that the doctor is not doing anything to the surface of the blister; this is because that specific part is needed for the blister to heal properly. If the exterior or the roof of the blister is removed, it will lose its protection against dangerous elements.
If ever your blister gets damaged, it is recommended that you apply an antibiotic ointment on the affected area to prevent bacteria from entering the wound. One of the best ointments to use for blisters is petroleum jelly, which you would need to cover with a soft bandage after applying for better healing results.
Foot blisters caused by friction can be difficult to prevent because even the most perfectly fitted footwear can still give us blisters. What we can only do to prevent foot blisters from worsening is to practice good foot hygiene by regularly washing our feet, changing our socks, and cleaning our shoes.