Foot Blisters

What are foot blisters?
Foot blisters are fluid filled skin lesion that are typically caused by high amounts of friction. The top layer of skin (epidermis) and the deeper layer (dermis) separate due to the clear fluid that is produced between the two skin layers.

Foot blisters can range in size and can be painful.

What are the typical causes of foot blisters?

Foot blisters are often formed when high amounts of friction are created against the skin. Sports such as running, ice skating, skiing, and many other activities can lead to blisters due to the regular/repetitive motions occurring during the activity. Long distance running can cause blisters very easily since the friction to the skin is consistent with every repeated step. Blisters can also be caused by infection, fractures, burns, and allergic reactions. Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) can form blisters on the feet as well.  The blisters are typically itchy but can also be painful.  The body produces an inflammatory response to the fungal infection and the blisters are a result of that.

How do you treat foot blisters?

The treatment for friction blisters is quite simple. First the foot would be prepped with a sterile solution to minimize risk of infection. Then, the doctor will simply lance the blister at the base of the lesion with a small scalpel. It is important that the blister roof be kept intact in order to have a protective layer of skin. If you remove the roof of the blister you will then have a greater chance of infection and complications.   The doctor will then place a non-adherent dressing to the area and then wrap with sterile gauze. Triple antibiotic may be used sparingly to help prevent infection to the skin. New skin will form underneath the blister and the fluid will be absorbed. Antibiotics may be prescribed if their is an underlying infection.

If the blisters are caused by a fungal infection (athlete’s foot) then the treatment is a topical anti fungal agent.  The doctor will prescribe a prescription strength topical agent which should be used for at least two weeks.  If the blisters are painful then the doctor will lance the blisters in the same fashion as stated above.

How do you prevent foot blisters?

For friction type blisters the simplest answer is to wear proper fitting shoes. If the shoes are too big or too tight this increases your risk of high friction areas. The shoe should be snug and the foot should not move excessively around in the shoe. If you have lumps and bumps on your foot such as hammertoes and bunions, then it would be beneficial to pad those areas. Special gel pads that we carry at the office work exceptionally well in preventing friction on prominent areas of the foot. Orthotics also help to even out the pressure along the foot and therefore can help to prevent pressure and friction. Wearing socks is also a great way to reduce friction to the skin. Another simple technique is to place bandaids over known areas of friction to the foot. The bandaids will act as a barrier thereby reducing friction to the skin.  Keeping your feet clean, dry, and intact is the easiest way to prevent any infection to the feet.  Regular inspections of your feet are necessary in order to catch problems sooner than later.