Blisters are the last thing that any runner wants on their feet! But runners often suffer from blisters on feet which are mostly caused by the friction of the shoes or sock constantly rubbing against the skin with heat, moisture, and sweat acting as exacerbating factors.
As a result of the friction, the body builds up fluid or watery bumps on the skin, at certain spots underneath the feet which endure maximum rubbing, which causes pressure and pain. When friction ruptures tiny blood vessels it results in a blood blister. Though not a serious health risk, blisters must be taken care of to avoid infections and are as important as other running injuries. So, here’s help; arm yourself with all the information about blisters on feet and deal with them confidently.
Blisters on Feet: Types and Causes
Want to know what causes the itchy bumps on feet? Walking or standing for long hours exerts pressure on the heels, soles and toes. Ill-fitting shoes constantly rub against the skin. Sweat and moisture inside your shoes clog the pores in your feet. These are perfect scenarios for blisters to develop.
Other possible causes of blisters on feet include sunburn, frostbite, allergic reaction, chemical exposure to cosmetics or detergents, fungal or bacterial infections, chickenpox, herpes and dyshidrotic eczema. Don’t worry about the blisters on your feet anymore; you can find out all that you need to know about blisters, right here!
Blisters on Feet: Diagnosis
You must seek medical advice if you have a painful blister that prevents you from walking. Apart from this if you also suffer from fever, nausea, or chills, chances of your blister being infected are more! Your doctor will drain the blister using a sterile needle and if required, he will also get the fluid tested for infection.
Blisters on Feet: Prevention
One of the best foot blister remedies is to wear proper well-fitted shoes!
Wearing shoes that properly fit your feet is the most important thing you must do to prevent blisters on your feet. You can wear insoles to provide extra padding and reduce friction. Applying foot powder or wearing moisture-wicking socks helps you keep your feet dry and would prevent blisters on feet.
Applying foot powder or wearing moisture-wicking socks helps you keep your feet dry and would prevent blisters on the bottom of your feet. Keep away from skin irritants and allergens. Address the underlying problem if the blisters are triggered by a medical condition.
How to Treat Blisters on Feet
How to make a blister heal faster? Only a good treatment can help your blister heal faster. Your blister’s roof will either be intact, torn, or deroofed and each has to be treated differently.
1. Intact Blister Roof
The blister might tear while you put on, or take off your shoes. To avoid that you will need an island dressing such as Primapore. The absorbent pad of the dressing doesn’t stick to your blister and makes it easy even to remove it. Your blister doesn’t get disturbed. This helps in reducing the pressure and friction on the spot. But do monitor regularly to check for blister roof tearing.
2. Torn Blister Roof
If your blister roof is torn you should aim to keep it in place. You will have to make use of an island dressing in this scenario too. Apply an antiseptic, dress your blister, reduce pressure and friction.
Most importantly monitor regularly for the possibility of an infection. Seek doctor’s advice if you have any doubt.
3. Deroofed blister
A deroofed blister is where the roof of the blister has come off exposing a red raw sore. A hydrocolloid dressing such as Compeed helps in healing raw skin quickly and doesn’t stick to the area. Apply an antiseptic ointment like Betadine, dress your blister, reduce pressure and friction, and monitor regularly for infection.
Blisters on Feet: Home Remedies
Want to know how to heal a blister at home? Then check these easy and effective home remedies that would heal your blisters faster.
1. Bandage at your rescue
Use a bandage as a pad to cover your blister and protect the area from further friction and rubbing. Stick both ends of the bandage leaving a gap in the middle over the blister allowing air to pass through thereby expediting the healing process.
2. Traditional Treatment- Use Green Tea
How to deal with blisters on feet using green tea?
Soak your blister in brewed and cooled green tea (about three-four tea bags) to which you have added a teaspoon of baking soda or apply the same with the help of a gauze. Green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties and baking soda’s antiseptic properties help in the healing process.
3. Spray some Deodorant
Rub a deodorant on your feet paying attention to problem areas to keep them sweat-free and dry, as moisture and friction aggravate blisters on your feet.
4. Bring relief from Apple Cider Vinegar
The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar protect a popped blister from infection. But be careful as the vinegar may sting. Clean it with apple cider vinegar and apply an antibacterial ointment.
If the vinegar proves to be too painful, clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and apply an antibacterial ointment.
5. King of medicines – Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe Vera gel is an easy way to treat the blister on the bottom of the foot. The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera help reduce redness and swelling that cause pain because of the blister.
6. Soothing Vitamin E Pill
Suffering from a blister on the heel? Then open a vitamin E pill and apply the liquid directly on the blister as this helps repair skin cells quickly and prevents scarring.
7. Fast healer – Castor Oil
Applying castor oil on the blister and leaving it overnight will help in drying it up and healing it. A mix of castor oil and apple cider vinegar will speed up the healing process.
8. Expose it to Air
In a cleaner environment at home, you can leave your blister exposed to air by applying a thin layer of antibacterial ointment. This will help in drying up the blister and healing it.
9. Dab Witch Hazel
Apply witch hazel with a clean cotton ball on the blister; its astringent tannins will help in keeping it clean, drying it out and healing it.
How to Pop a Blister on Feet?
Should you pop a blister or should you not? Make a decision in this regard keeping in mind the location of the blister and the urgency of the situation you are in.
For example, pop a blister only if you are about to run a marathon or a race and the blister becomes an impediment to your activity. It is also important to understand the risks involved in popping a blister. But if you are in a doubt it is advisable to apply antiseptic and protect it with a sterile dressing or seek medical advice to deal with it.
Risks involved in Popping Blisters on Feet
Popping a blister may sometimes result in infection further aggravating its condition requiring medical intervention and prolonging its healing time. Dealing with the pain itself is bothersome. Pus, incessant pain and swelling are signs that an infection has developed on your blister.
In such a scenario, you may be prescribed an antiseptic ointment such as Betadine or oral antibiotics. A medical emergency may arise if you see red streaks around your blister that extend upwards. This medical condition is called lymphangitis and is commonly referred to as blood-borne infection or poisoning and calls for urgent medical intervention because the unchecked infection can lead to serious consequences.
Steps to Effectively Pop or Lance Blisters on Feet
Should you drain a blister? Sometimes blisters heal on their own, but at times we need to pop it! Following are the effective way to pop a blister.
- A clean environment and sterile equipment is required if you want to pop your blister.
- Clean your hands and foot with antibacterial soap and water, or even with an antibacterial hand gel.
- Use a sterile scalpel blade or hypodermic needle to lance the blister in two-three places to let the fluid ooze out. You can also use a cotton swab to disinfect a needle by rubbing it with alcohol.
- After draining out the fluid, apply antiseptic ointment and use a sterile dressing.
- Protect it from friction and check for any signs of infection.
- Soak the area in warm water to soften the blister and then drain the fluid inside, if you have not been successful with popping it.
How to Pop a Blood Blister?
Should you pop a blood blister? The same answers apply here but this calls for greater caution and close monitoring to deal immediately with any signs of infection and cause of the bleeding.
Are you going to run a marathon? Then check out our Post Marathon Recovery Steps after Running a Marathon
A skin condition in which you get blisters on the soles of your feet or palms of your hands is called Dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrosis. The blisters which may last for two-four weeks, may be filled with fluid and cause itching.
Causes and Risks
Seasonal allergies or physical, or emotional stress may be the cause of dyshidrotic eczema. Blisters are likely to erupt more during the spring allergy season. For some people, it could be a type of allergic reaction.
Chances of developing dyshidrotic eczema are more if your hands or feet are often exposed to moisture (as in the case of runners as their feet are inside dark sweaty shoes and socks) or water, or if you are exposed to metal salts such as cobalt and nickel because of the work you do.
Blisters caused because of dyshidrotic eczema may be full of fluid and cause itching resulting in flaky skin. Sometimes, the blisters may be large and painful. The blisters may take about three weeks to dry up and as they do the skin cracks may become painful.
Your doctor will examine your skin carefully and may prescribe tests including skin biopsy or allergy skin testing to rule out other skin conditions such as fungal infection.
Treatment for Dyshidrotic Eczema
You can deal with mild outbreaks by applying corticosteroid ointments such as Benadryl, or Claritin on the affected part. You may be prescribed a corticosteroid injection or pill for severe outbreaks. Avoid scratching your blisters which might worsen them. Extensive exposure to water may also aggravate them.
Some of the medical dyshidrotic eczema treatments are UV light treatments, draining large blisters, antihistamines, anti-itch creams or ointments, immune-suppressing ointments. Antibiotics may be prescribed for treating infections.
You can apply cold packs to deal with itchy bumps on feet, followed by an ointment recommended by your doctor. You can tackle the dryness and itching by using moisturizing creams, petroleum jelly, mineral oil, or witch hazel.
Role of Diet
Check with your doctor if a change in diet may help if medication is not improving your condition. Adding vitamin A to your diet or eliminating foods that contain nickel or cobalt from your food might help.
Complications of Dyshidrotic Eczema
Discomfort from itching, painful blisters, disturbed sleep and the possibility of infection in them are the main complications of dyshidrotic eczema. The fact that you may not be able to walk or use your hands (depending on where you get the blisters) till the blisters heal is itself a complication.
Staying hydrated, strengthening your skin by moisturizing it daily and avoiding perfumed soaps, or harsh cleansers are preventive measures.
Never use a dirty needle to pop a blister; it will end up being seriously infected.
A foot blister caused by friction may heal quickly with home treatments. But if blisters don’t respond to home treatments or worsen over time, do see a doctor. We have advised you on blister prevention, management, and remedial measures, however, we hope you will never have to deal with these watery and itchy bumps on feet in your life! Take care of your feet and you can also try barefoot running. Happy and pain-free running!
Have you tried barefoot running? Then take a look at Barefoot Running Demystified!