Blisters: Bubbles on Your Feet

FootIt is amazing how even a small injury on your foot can cause a lot of pain and impact your mobility. If you say to yourself, “So, there’s a bubble on my foot, what’s the big deal?” you may have another thing coming! A blister makes its presence known as soon as it happens. Runners and athletes are well acquainted with this common foot injury but without the right care and treatment, a small problem can quickly turn into a bigger one.

Fighting Friction

A blister is a fluid-filled bump that forms in the top layers of your skin. Under repeated friction, it develops as a natural form of protection for the delicate tissues underneath. The bubble gets bigger as more fluid fills the area. They can be small and painless or large and very limiting depending on where they develop on your foot. It is common for them to form on the back of your heel, the tops of your toes and the soles of your feet. Most often, a blister forms from repeated pressure, rubbing, or friction. People who are active are prone to this common foot injury as moving around in certain types of shoes can irritate the skin on the foot. Another cause is trauma such as a sudden pinch on the skin, a bug bite, exposure to extreme temperatures, chemicals, and allergies. Less common causes include contact dermatitis and chickenpox.

Protecting Your Skin

A blister can be quite tender to the touch and make it difficult to stay active or wear shoes comfortably. It is never a good idea to ignore it, even if it’s tiny. You should make every effort to ensure that the top layer of skin stays intact. It is when it ruptures and the underlying tissues are exposed that your risk for infection increases. For a small blister, apply a bit of antibiotic cream and cover it with a bandage. If the bubble is in a place that endures a lot of pressure, such as the bottom of your foot, it is helpful to use a bandage with a hole in the center so you can relieve pressure without adding additional friction.

It is important to remove the source of friction that caused the problem in the first place in order to prevent the injury from getting worse or returning once it has healed. If your shoes were to blame, do not wear them again until the blister has healed. In fact, it may be best to find a pair that fit your feet better. Shoes should never need a “break in” period—find some that fit and feel great right from the start. Wear socks that fit as well, and that have moisture-wicking properties to minimize rubbing and friction. If certain areas of your feet are prone to hot spots or you are going out for a long activity such as hiking, be proactive and protect vulnerable areas with moleskin pads.

Seeking Treatment

In addition to leaving small blisters alone, the same goes for large, painful ones. In this case, allow Harvey R. Danciger, DPM to evaluate the injury and treat it appropriately. Trying to drain it at home could cause further injury and increase your risk for infection. If you have a condition like diabetes that compromises your immune system, it is especially important that you leave treatment in our hands. A tiny, fluid-filled bubble could become a dangerous wound or ulcer without expert care.

A blister can be a small annoyance but it could be a really painful injury as well. With the right care you can protect your skin and avoid infection. If you have trouble with recurring blisters, there may be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Contact Harvey R. Danciger, DPM for an appointment or more information—use our appointment request option online or call our office in Palm Desert, CA at (760) 568-0108. 

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Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle