Foot blisters – a precautionary tale…

We’ve all had a blister from time to time and know how sore they can be – especially if they become infected. Ill-fitting footwear is the common culprit along with increased activity. The key is to ensure steps are taken so that blisters do not form in the first place.

What are foot blisters?

Foot blisters are caused by a collection of fluid in the lining between the dermis and the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). It’s nature’s way to protect the inner layer of the skin (dermis) from becoming inflamed. In early stages of the area is inflamed and tender and later the foot blisters form. If friction continues the outer layer is removed and there is a discharge of clear, colourless fluid exposing the raw sensitive flesh.

What causes foot blisters and how can they be prevented?

Often the cause is due to ill fitting shoes whereby the foot moves too freely within the shoe causing friction. Properly fitting shoes and socks that allow the foot to breathe normally ought to be sufficient enough to prevent the formation of foot blisters.
But it is good practice to prepare your feet properly before undertaking sporting activity such as running or hiking. Protect potential hot spots by applying a second skin such as Compeed or an Epitact Anti-Blister Patch. These products contain a silicone gel with mechanical properties close to those of natural human tissue, protecting the skin from friction, a source of overheating and blisters. Feet need to be kept as dry as possible and socks changed regularly.

How can foot blisters be treated?

On feeling heat and noticing reddening of the skin, in the first instance it is worth following the advice above of applying a second skin and changing socks. Fundamentally, blister fluid will be reabsorbed by the body over 7 days and heal on its own. However, for larger blisters or those which are causing problems, it may be necessary to pop them. This can be done by making a small hole at the edge with a sterilised needle allowing the fluid to drain. It is important to leave as much of the skin as possible covering the wound to prevent infection which should then be covered with a blister plaster. Blister prevention tape can be cut to any size and comes on a strip, stays on for up to 2 days. Body glides Foot Glide is an anti blister balm that you can apply to the foot before walking or running to prevent chafing and blisters.

For those undertaking frequent sporting activities resulting in persistent blister formation, it is ultimately worth visiting a podiatrist who can undertake a thorough gait analysis and prescribe custom made orthotics.

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