I have a blister - now what?

By: Michelle Peterson AT, ATC
Athletic Trainer- Jackson High School
Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.

Have you ever noticed that when you wear a new pair of shoes by the end of the day your feet ache and you’ve developed a very sensitive red spot on your heel or pinky toe? That is the beginning development of a blister!

What is a blister? A blister is fluid filled area containing serum, plasma, blood, or pus depending upon how and where it was formed. Blisters generally develop from repeated friction such as when your foot rubs against your shoe, typically at your heel, big toe, or pinky toe. With each step you take, the affected area becomes irritated and inflamed causing the development of a red spot. If the irritation isn’t prevented, the blister bubble forms from the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin. The epidermis’ job is to protect the layers beneath it; one way it prevents damage is by developing a blister to protect the other tissues and allowing for some time to heal.

What causes a blister? Poorly fitted or stiff shoes cause blisters to develop in high friction areas. Moist skin causes development of blisters more often.

How should I treat a blister? Most blisters heal on their own. Over time, new skin will grow beneath the blister and the fluid will slowly disappear and the skin where the blister was will dry and peel off on its’ own. DO NOT POP A BLISTER! This is an invitation for infection. Instead, add a barrier or padding to minimize the irritation of the blister. If a blister pops, be sure to clean the area with soap and water, and then treat the area with antibiotic ointment. Cover with a Band-Aid or gauze to minimize the development of an infection.

How can I prevent a blister from developing?

  • Wearing well-fitted, comfortable and supportive shoes
  • Always make sure to wear clean, dry socks
  • During physical activities such as walking, jogging, or weight lifting, try to wear a sport sock as they are designed to reduce the amount of foot sweat.
  • Gradually break in a new pair of shoes by wearing them for only a few hours on the first day of use while gradually building up to wearing them for an entire day.
  • Lastly, you can add padding to the problem areas to help prevent the development of blisters.

Michelle is the Licensed Athletic Trainer at Jackson High School and can be reached at: michelleatc@orsmi.com