Deroofed Blisters - The One Thing Worse Than A Standard Blister

It’s fair enough that sometimes, you just don’t get to your blister soon enough before the deroofing happens.

But I don’t know why you would willingly remove the roof like this - especially when you’re running in the desert like this fellow.

Marathon Des Sables race medic deroofing a competitor's foot blister  © - all rights reserved

Marathon Des Sables race medic deroofing a competitor's foot blister © - all rights reserved

Anyway, what causes blister deroofing?

Skin shear (stretching) causes the blister in the first place (first image below). Left unchecked, and especially when there’s abrasive rubbing also, that useful flap of skin will just rub right off (second image below).

Intact blisters ( photo credit )

Intact blisters (photo credit)

Deroofed blisters ( Photo credit )

Deroofed blisters (Photo credit)

3 ways to stop your blister from deroofing

1) Add a protective layer (tape / dressing / bandage)

This will serve as protection from rubbing. I favour non-adherent island dressings (the dressing sticks to the surrounding skin to keep it in place, but not the blister roof itself because there's an island of non-adherent absorbing material in the middle eg: in its simplest form, a bandaid). Don't put tape over your blister. When you come to take that tape off, it's likely to take the blister roof off with it, leaving you with the very problem you're trying to avoid. 

2) Eliminate pressure

The best way to prevent your blister from deroofing is by eliminating all pressure. By wearing shoes that don't touch the blister (eg: thongs or scuffs for blisters on the toes or back of the heel). This will allow the blister to resolve in its own time. In reality, this is not always possible, like if you are in a race situation or miles from support. Or if your blister is under the ball of your foot.

Alternatively, you can try and reduce pressure. For example, donut pads. By cutting a hole in a piece of thick orthopedic felt / moleskin and adhering it over the area so the blister is in the cavity, pressure and movement against the skin can be avoided or at least minimised. This will keep the blister roof intact. Podiatrist Emily Smith shows you how in this video. And you can get a sheet of this orthopaedic felt here.


3) Lower the friction level (ENGO patch / lubricant)

Reduce the friction level between your shoe and sock. This is blister prevention (and deroofing prevention) GOLD. Why? Because you allow the sock and skin to move as a single unit so the sock actually protects the skin. Watch this video to see what I mean. Or you can reduce the friction level between your foot and the sock (lubricants, powders, moisture-wicking socks). It's not quite as effective but better than not addressing the friction level at all. Here are my two of my favourite ways to reduce friction levels.

Treating a deroofed blister

In a word ... Hydrocolloid blister plasters!  Watch this video below for more information. You can pick up hydrocolloid plasters at pharmacies. Just make sure they’re sterile. This is important, considering they are treating raw weepy wounds that could easily get infected. We’ve got some individually-packaged sterile hydrocolloid blister plasters and you can grab them from us via the link below.

Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leader, author and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.