Just what is a blister, anyway?

Under the skin, a blister forms as a bubble filled with a clear, watery fluid (called serum). Inadequately fitting footwear or socks can cause blisters at the point of contact.

Because of constant pressure, friction, and shear, the skin at a contact point loses its elasticity and becomes porous, allowing serum to leak in from neighboring tissues. An accumulation of serum is the body's natural response to damaged skin; it serves to protect and cushion the skin below.

Blisters typically fall into one of three categories.

  • Blisters caused by friction occur when the skin rubs against something repeatedly (poorly fitting shoes are a common culprit). These blisters are the most common kind to appear.
  • Burns, sunburns, and rewarming skin from frostbite can all lead to heat blisters.
  • Bleeding blisters result from skin pinching. When blood vessels burst, blood floods the area instead of serum.
Woman with heel blisters from wearing high heeled shoes

Why do we get blisters?

Common causes include chafing from tight socks, tight shoes, or both. Bump formation can be triggered by anything that causes constant rubbing, such as

  • a quickening of one's stride, whether running or walking
  • badly fitting footwear
  • atypical structures of the foot (such as corns, calluses, and hammertoes)
  • heat and moisture-induced bloating

Please advise on how to avoid foot blisters.

The most effective method for dealing with blisters is, of course, to prevent them from forming in the first place. Limiting shear forces, friction, and pressure on the feet can help prevent blisters. If you know what to do, avoiding blisters is simple.

Person getting sized for proper shoes

Find the proper footwear.

There is no one perfect pair of shoes because everyone's feet are different. The first few times you wear a new pair of shoes, you might get blisters. On a long walk or run, breaking in new shoes can increase friction in previously unaffected zones.

Get your feet measured for shoes. A well-fitting shoe will prevent the heel from slipping and the toes from chafing against the front of the sole. Be cautious and work up to longer runs or walks when breaking in new shoes. If you're breaking in a new pair of shoes, even if it's the same brand and model as your old shoes, it's smart to gradually increase your mileage and running pace.

Be sure there's enough space in the toe box (the area where your toes would normally go) as well. Toes get sore from rubbing against the shoe's sides or end if the toe box is too small. When your toes are squished together in a shoe, it can cause your toenails to become brittle and break.

You probably already know that wearing shoes that are too small can be harmful to your feet. If your shoes are too big, your feet will slide forward and back within them with each step, increasing the amount of friction that will eventually lead to blisters. Walking space should allow for some wiggle room but not too much sliding.

Put in inserts that are tailored to your feet

If you have foot problems like bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet, a podiatrist can help you find shoes that are comfortable and supportive. Orthotics, insoles, or adjustments to your shoes may be suggested by your doctor in order to alleviate pressure in specific areas.

Blisters can be caused by anything that rubs consistently...

Pick the Right Socks

Your socks serve as a buffer between your foot and your footwear. The ideal pair of socks would be well-fitting and not too thick. Because of this, your socks won't get all bunched up and cause blisters from rubbing. Many hikers find that wearing two pairs of socks simultaneously helps them avoid blisters.

Even the socks you wear are important. Socks made of synthetic materials or treated to wick moisture away from the skin encourage cooling air to circulate around the foot. While cotton socks tend to trap moisture next to the skin and keep feet warm, these wick away excess moisture to keep feet toasty and healthy.

In order to safeguard delicate areas,

Putting padding, tape, and a dressing on potential blister sites can keep them from forming. Bunions, hammertoes, and bone spurs on the heel and foot are common prominences. Reducing friction and avoiding blister formation by covering these areas with moleskin (a soft, durable, woven fabric backed with an adhesive) or an adhesive bandage like a band-aid.

Patients may also try putting Vaseline (petroleum jelly), deodorant, or talcum powder in their shoes. You can prevent blisters on your feet by using lubricants to reduce friction and/or powders to absorb moisture, but your mileage may vary.

When walking, how do I prevent blisters on my feet?

In spite of precautions, it is still possible for a blister to form if the skin is irritated or rubbed against something. Now what

Keep the blister's roof intact; don't puncture or tear it if it's small and not painful. Non-adherent bandages and padding can be used to protect the injured area. You should keep an eye on the blister in case it starts draining or grows in size.

Man applying bandage to blister

In the event that the blister's roof is ripped or punctured, it is critical to practice good hygiene in order to prevent infection:

  1. In order to disinfect the blister, you can use either soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
  2. Utilize an antibiotic ointment or betadine, both of which are antiseptics.
  3. Non-adherent bandages and padding can be used to protect the area.

When treated appropriately, most blisters heal without further complications or infections.

Redness, warmth, swelling, increased pain or drainage, yellow or darkened fluid, and a foul odor are all signs of infection that need to be watched for. These symptoms could indicate an infection at the root Getting medical help quickly will reduce the risk of the infection getting worse or spreading.

Immunocompromised people and those with preexisting conditions like diabetes, neuropathy, or vascular disease require immediate medical attention. They are more likely to experience complications and infections.

Runners and hikers alike want to know how to protect their feet from blisters.

Blisters are common for anyone, but runners and hikers are especially susceptible. Blisters can be caused by poorly fitting shoes (either too tight or too loose), long periods of running or hiking, poor running form, or an irregular foot shape (such as from bunions), among other things.

Blisters commonly form on runners' and hikers' arches, soles, and toes. During a run or hike, these regions frequently and continuously rub against footwear.

Blisters are common in sports like running and hiking, and while they usually aren't life-threatening, you shouldn't ignore the pain. Due to prolonged friction between the skin, sock, and shoe, many runners get blisters during races, especially marathons. However, blisters can appear at any time, even during runs intended to prevent them. Blisters are not only caused by running shoes.

It is a common misconception that if you run or hike long enough, your feet will become stronger and more resilient to the pain. Contrary to popular belief, however, this strategy is ineffective. The blister bursts, exposing a superficial wound that could get infected if left untreated.

In addition, blisters can cause changes in gait, which can lead to additional blisters in other parts of the feet. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons also take a bigger hit. This might not be a problem depending on the distance. Prolonged lower-body stress from running and hiking, however, can lead to injury.

Blisters on the feet: a sign of illness?

Blistering is more likely to occur on skin with any kind of damage to its outer layer. Frequent causes of foot blisters include:

  • chickenpox
  • eczema, including dyshidrotic eczema, characterized by the development of small, itchy blisters along the toes and soles.
  • bullous pemphigoid, pemphigus vulgaris, and other autoimmune diseases
  • Damage to the nerves caused by diabetes can lead to numbness or pain in the feet, a condition known as neuropathy.
  • antibacterial therapy
  • Drugs that thin the blood

Why Should You Seek Treatment for Your Feet and Ankles at University Foot and Ankle Institute?

We are here to assist you and your loved ones with any foot issues that you may be experiencing. The most cutting-edge treatment options for your ankles and feet can be found with our team of nationally renowned podiatrists We have pioneered the study, diagnosis, and treatment of all disorders affecting the foot and ankle.

Please call (877) 736-6001 or book your appointment online now to schedule a consultation.

The podiatrists here really worry about their patients' wellbeing. Covid-19 patient safety procedures at our podiatry clinic exceed all CDC coronavirus pandemic guidelines. In our research facilities, masks are always required.

The University Foot and Ankle Institute has many locations in the greater Los Angeles area and throughout Southern California. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Westlake Village, Granada Hills, Valencia, and Santa Barbara are just some of the places you can visit one of our foot doctors.

For nearly fifteen years, patients have had access to the most cutting-edge, effective foot and ankle care in the country thanks to University Foot and Ankle Institute and its roster of internationally acclaimed doctors. When it comes to academic offerings, the Fellowship Program at University Foot and Ankle Institute is cutting edge. At UFAI, our goal is to restore our patients' maximum level of function as quickly and with as little discomfort as possible. From the very first step to the very last, you can count on us to be there for you. In order to better equip our patients and website visitors to make informed decisions about their foot and ankle health, the UFAI Education Team is constantly collecting and disseminating the most recent research and data. It is our intention to provide our audience with information that will be of genuine value to them.

We're thrilled that you've found our efforts to be worthwhile and entertaining. Make sure to tell us