Preventing and caring for a painful blister on foot or heel blister
Posted on December 8, 2021
Written by: 100% PURE
Every year we’re super excited for boot season. And then we remember that we’re facing another few months of a potential foot blister or heel blister.
For those that have been lucky enough to skate by without ever experiencing this, trust us when we say it is extremely uncomfortable. A blister on foot pops up in a high-traffic area, stretching the skin and causing sensitivity and pain that can last for days or weeks. With all the reasons to wear stylish boots or spicy heels for our holiday events this month, we could all use a few tips on how to deal with foot blisters.
Unlike how scratches, bruises, and pimples seem to pop up, a blister on foot doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. In most cases, we can feel a foot blister forming before we can see evidence of it on the skin. Consistent friction or heat will cause a blister on foot to form. The most common spots are a heel blister, foot blister on the ball of the foot, and the pinky toe, as well as the bottom of the feet.
When the foot is exposed to extreme heat, rubbing, burning, or even aesthetic treatments like gel nail applications, the different layers of the skin react. Ill-fitting shoes or strenuous walking conditions are the most common causes. Shoes that are too large, leaving room for a lot of friction – or too small, leaving certain areas jammed and smashed – put excess pressure and can lead to a blister on foot.
Beneath the outer skin’s surface, fluid starts to form at the irritation site, in a similar fashion to an oyster turning sand into a pearl. As the foot blister fluid forms, it creates a small pocket of liquid that stretches the skin, further irritating the area. In its place is a bubble of fluid that can linger, pop, or leak and with it, the skin can harden, peel and rip.
The biggest key with blisters is prevention. Here are a few ways to prevent them from forming:
It truly starts with buying well-fitting shoes (which isn’t always easy to do online) and ensuring they’re a proper match with the foot. There are all kinds of wacky tricks online to loosen tight shoes and how to wear large shoes comfortably. However, the best choice is to go with a shoe or shoemaker that’s trustworthy.
Because foot blisters and a heel blister can often develop in the same spots based on the formation of the foot, temporary topical solutions can help. A variety of pre- and post- blister bandages are available as well as gel inserts for the insole, heels, and toes.
Practicing great foot care, like regular exfoliation, massages, and moisture can help. Good shoe hygiene (regular washing or sterilizing) and foot accessories, like pads and inserts, can make the occasional blister a much more tolerable experience – with the right shoes in the meantime, of course.
Once we’ve started to feel that burning sensation, a painful blister on foot or heel is likely to follow. From there, we’ve got to just accept that we need to deal with it and resist the urge to pop it. It can be very tempting – especially when the blister itself is causing additional discomfort in the moment – but popping a blister on the foot can actually make things worse.
First, popping can lead to longer healing times. What happens when we burst a blister is that in addition to damaging the deeper layers of skin, we’ve added more damage to the outer skin that now has to heal. This means that sometimes popping a heel blister can lead to scarring or discoloration. Don’t overlook the risk of infection; once the blister is popped, the more sensitive layers of skin are exposed.
Still, if popping to relieve pressure is necessary, using a small sterile needle to make a tiny hole is the best option. Then, the fluid from a blister on foot can be gently pushed out to ease the discomfort. Follow with antibacterial ointment and a bandage.
When treating a foot blister that’s still intact, it’s best to clean it with soap and water and cover it with a bandage. Generally, the fluid in a blister on foot should slowly dissipate naturally. Then, the skin will shrink down to normal. A temporary darkening of the skin is to be expected.
But because we often have to wear shoes in the meantime while it’s healing, a switch in footwear might be necessary. Ankle pad inserts for larger shoes, gel pads for rough spots or tight squeezes, and of course avoiding any heated treatments are definitely recommended.