It’s hard to move around if you have blisters, right?
There are many reasons as to what causes foot blisters.
However, there are also many reasons on how to prevent foot blisters.
It’s ultimately up to you which of the methods you prefer. In this article, we will also show how to treat blisters as an additional guidance.
What are Blisters?
Blisters are described to be circular in shape. They are soft to the touch and feel like there’s fluid inside that might pop when you press them too hard. Blisters don’t have to be uniform in size. There’s also no limit to the number of blisters you can develop.
Depending on the location of a blister, it can hinder your normal routine. If they are foot blisters, then all the more reason that you may feel pain when exercising, walking, or standing for a spell. Aside from the pain, you feel if they’re touched, they also cause burning sensations.
The most common occurrence of a blister is when there’s too much heat or friction against the epidermis. The epidermis is also known as the uppermost skin layer. If this is damaged due to too much friction, this layer becomes separated to the next skin layer.
And then, some fluid (also known as serum) will fill the void due to the separation. Of course, only a small part of the skin layer would be ruptured i.e. the part of the skin exposed to friction.
Fluid gathers in that area as to protect it from getting more damaged. The fluid acts as cushioning and facilitates healing. However, it must be noted that the blisters take several days before they heal naturally.
Types of Foot Blisters
There are actually two types of blisters. The first one is the blister filled with fluid. The serum is essentially one of the blood components. It is composed of proteins, hormones, electrolytes, antigens, and hormones. This is kind is classified as a mild blister. When popped, the fluid looks clear.
On another note, there’s another blister that may appear red or black. This just means that it contains blood. Blood can fill in the void instead of serum when the skin layer that was damaged had ruptured capillaries. From elementary science, capillaries are the smallest blood vessels that carry blood throughout the body. This is also called a blood blister.
The signs that a blister became infected is when pus forms and there is the all-familiar yellow-white tinge.
What Causes Blisters?
There are a number of reasons why our foot develops blisters. Let’s go with them one by one.
This is the most common causes of foot blisters. Friction between the foot and the shoe happens for a number of reasons. First is when you wear ill-fitting shoes that are either too tight or too loose. When the shoes are too loose, the feet move extensively inside and on the walls of the shoe. This rubs and creates friction with the skin until the skin layer becomes damaged.
On another note, if it’s too tight, the same thing will happen as there’s constant friction on the concentrated area where the skin and the wall of the shoe meet.
Blisters can also develop when you wear a new pair of shoes. Leather shoes, in particular, are hard to break in at first. That’s why there are methods available that must be done before you wear leather shoes or any other hard shoes. These methods make the said shoes softer or wider depending on the medium.
Blisters can develop as a response to too much heat. They occur immediately when your skin is exposed to intense UV rays. Blisters like these tend to be really painful.
When the weather is too cold, tissues are vulnerable to damage that leads to blisters. This is because the blood vessels contract and there are lesser blood that flows to the end parts of the body (e.g. hands, feet).
Annoying blisters can develop when your skin comes into contact with a chemical that has irritating effects. That’s why it’s a safety protocol to use boots and gloves when handling industry chemicals.
How to Prevent Blisters
Since you already experienced how it feels to have a blister, you now have the resolve why you should prevent blisters from plaguing you the next time. Some tips below are also about protecting the blisters from further soring. Remember, to prevent is to protect!
1. Cover with Socks
Socks are good covers to stop those blisters from occurring again. But, you have to require those socks to be thick so that they’ll create a thick barrier between the skin and the shoes.
When choosing a pair of socks, avoid 100% cotton. Cotton doesn’t wick sweat away which makes the blister worse if you already have one. The fabric is also soft and thin that are susceptible to breaking with continuous friction.
Choose a pair of socks that can wick moisture away from the bottom to the top. Also, it may be a lifesaver if you invest in athletic socks. They have all the qualities you need to feel comfortable, and that includes keeping your feet dry and away from blisters!
2. Bandage strips
If you’re wearing open shoes like flip-flops or sandals, then a bandage strip will do. This is OK when the blistered part is rather small. Besides, what would aggravate it further when you’re wearing open footwear?
Other alternatives to a bandage strip include moleskin, sports tape, patches, and even duct tape!
3. Prevent moist skin
Sweaty feet are more prone to blisters. One of the cheapest ways to make your feet dry is to apply talcum powder, aluminum chloride, or cornstarch before you do any high-intensity activities.
Since friction is one of the major causes, a petroleum jelly can do so much to minimize the friction. Apply it whenever you’re heading out for a walk.
5. Find the right shoes
If the shoes you’re wearing is new or tight-fitting, the best way to do to avoid blisters is to break them in. There a lot of methods in widening the shoes so they fit right into your feet. Some of the easiest methods are to applying shoe stretcher, using socks, freezing method, heat application, etc. This way, you don’t have to spend money.
If your shoes are loose or the feet keep sliding around the shoes, then you just have to wear a pair of socks with a thickerlayer. The layer will take up the unused space and would greatly fit around your shoes. You can also modify the shoelaces that will keep the heel into shoe’s heel cup in place.
Tougher skin is your longtime solution! These calluses develop when your feet get to do more work. As you know already, calluses are thick paddings where blisters can’t break in. Friction has no effect on calluses, so you should give it a try.
Athletes and runners develop their calluses by soaking their feet in a 10% tannic acid solution(1). You can also just apply them around your feet. Do this daily for about two weeks. However, you don’t want to have dried out calluses! They have the same pain as with developing those annoying blisters. Calluses should be moisturized to avoid cracking. You can use a foot cream to do the job after each shower.
Should You Pop That Annoying Blister?
There’s a constant argument between popping a blister and not popping it. There are pros and cons for the two of them and it’s best to stay in between.
Let’s consider the pros and cons of each. Take for instance, you decided to pop the blister. First, you’ll need a dressing as you need to put some medication on it so that it won’t be infected. Second, it should not be exposed to a dark and moist environment as germs would flock to it. Otherwise, you might even develop lymphangitis(2). This is about having red streaks surrounding a blister.
An example of a dark and moist environment is when you wear closed shoes. It’s a natural phenomenon for the feet to sweat when doing activities, so you will have to abstain from wearing closed shoes when you’re going to pop the blister!
Now, if you don’t pop it, then there are fewer things to consider. Yes, the downtime would be long in waiting for them not to be sore anymore. However, you will not subject those blisters to infection when you do activities like hiking. Furthermore, one more thing to consider for you to decide not to pop a blister is if you have existing conditions like diabetes or low immune system.
Doctors also have recommended that popping blisters lead to infection. Their opinion is valuable but it’s really up to you on what you will do. When you have decided not to pop or peel those blisters, it’s best to keep the affected area as clean and as dry as possible.
Treating Foot Blisters
When the circumstances and the environment allow for you to pop that annoying blister, then you should grab the chance. The first thing you must do is to wash your foot with soap and water. Do the same with your hands as you’re going to touch those blisters later. You may also have to prepare sterilized medical equipment like a needle and some dressing.
Then, the next thing to do is to position your foot so that lancing the blister with your needle will allow the fluid inside to flow outside naturally. Pop the blister by lancing it with a needle about 2 to 3 times. Wipe the fluid with a cotton and begin applying an antiseptic with another cotton. Finally, dress the wound just like how you would dress any other wounds on other parts of your body.
One of the key things that you must observe is that the dressing must not be wet as infecting germs may seep in. Another thing is to keep the popped blister away from abrasions and further rubbing.
Have you decided whether to pop them or not? Anyway, now you know the entire background of the foot blisters then you have the proper arsenal as to how to prevent foot blisters from coming back. There are certainly a lot of methods and each can guarantee painless walking or exercising!