How To Treat Your Foot Blister

Where you start is your choice!

  1. Blister prevention
  2. Hot-spot management
  3. Blister treatment

Best case scenario is you start at blister prevention. It's your best chance of a no-fuss and pain-free experience. Failing that, if you're lucky you'll get a warning and start at hot-spot management. If not, you'll be negotiating the slippery slope of blister treatment ... but let me warn you ... it's complicated!

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1. Blister prevention

Prevention is your best chance of a no-fuss and pain-free experience. The most effective blister management strategy starts before you walk out the door. It should be in place before you even begin. Have a flick through this slide deck to discover your 14 options.


2. Hot-spot management

If you neglect prevention, you might still get lucky and avoid a blister. You might get a brief sensation of heat called a hot-spot. This is your warning that a blister is about to form.

Be grateful for the warning and act immediately! This is your small window of opportunity to prevent a blister.

Hot-spot management is just like blister prevention. The only difference is you have to drop everything and do it immediately. And you obviously need to have the right equipment with you. That's not always possible. Do you run with a blister kit?

To manage a hot-spot, use the same prevention strategies in the slide deck above. Get in early enough and you might avoid going any further down the slippery slope of foot blister treatment. Blister treatment is tricky! It rarely provides 100% pain relief, requires ongoing intervention, you need to have gear on-hand and the method used depends on lots of variables. My advice ... avoid it!


3. Blister treatment

So you've missed the blister prevention boat. What comes next? The exact course of action depends on the integrity of the blister roof. The blister roof will either be intact, torn or deroofed. So let's have a look at how blister treatment changes depending on what's happened to your blister roof.

3a) Blister roof intact

Here's what you need to do:

We know the majority of blisters will tear ("pop") if you put your shoes back on and just hope for the best. So the very least you can do is dress your blister to keep it clean, just in case. You'll need an island dressing. These have an absorbent pad (that doesn't stick to your blister) surrounded by adhesive, like Primapore.

It's important not to stick anything to the blister. Or the blister roof might tear when you remove the dressing.

How to treat an intact blister - image credit

How to treat an intact blister - image credit

Primapore island dressing won't tear your blister roof - image credit

Primapore island dressing won't tear your blister roof - image credit

 

 

3b) Blister roof torn

Here's what you need to do:

So you've discovered a torn blister. Or maybe you decided to take matters into your own hands and lance your blister in a controlled and clean environment, like this [video]. Either way, your aim with a torn blister is to keep the blister roof in place, even though it is torn. And so it's even more important to not stick anything to the blister or the roof might rip off completely when you remove the dressing. An island dressing again like Primapore is what you'll need.

Remember, because your blister roof is compromised, infection is possible and is your main concern.

Everything is more complicated now because of the increased risk of infection

How to treat a blister with a torn roof - image credit

How to treat a blister with a torn roof - image credit

Primapore island dressing will absorb blister fluid but won't tear your blister roof off - image credit

Primapore island dressing will absorb blister fluid but won't tear your blister roof off - image credit

To prevent infection:

  • Disinfect your hands
  • Use a sterile dressing
  • Monitor regularly for infection
  • Seek medical attention if in doubt

What are the signs of infection?

 

 

3c) Deroofed blister

Here's what you need to do:

  • Apply antiseptic (like Betadine)
  • Dress your blister
  • Reduce pressure
  • Reduce friction
  • Monitor regularly for infection

A deroofed blister is where the top of the blister has rubbed off leaving a red raw sore.

You'll need a hydrocolloid dressing like Compeed. As the raw skin heals, it weeps. This not only provides the best environment for quick healing. It prevents the dressing from sticking to the area and disrupting valuable healed tissue. Hydrocolloids work best if they stay on for up to a few days at a time. The frequency with which it is changed depends on the degree of weeping. Read  this nice little explanation of how to use hydrocolloid dressings and how they work.

How to treat a deroofed blister - image credit

How to treat a deroofed blister - image credit

Compeed hydrocolloid blister dressing provides an ideal blister healing environment and won't disrupt valuable healing tissue when you remove it - image credit

Compeed hydrocolloid blister dressing provides an ideal blister healing environment and won't disrupt valuable healing tissue when you remove it - image credit

Alternatives to Compeed include Duoderm and Comfeel. They come in larger sizes too.

And finally

Common mistakes to avoid when using Compeed (and other hydrocolloid dressings)


My final blister treatment advice

Blister treatment has 3 aims:

  1. Prevent infection
  2. Reduce pain
  3. Speed healing

Prevention is so much easier ... it saves time and effort and it's pain-free! 


Rebecca Rushton

Written by Rebecca Rushton

Rebecca is an Australian podiatrist with over 20 years experience. She has spent a lifetime dealing with her own blister prone feet in her sporting and everyday life. Rebecca specialises in helping athletes and sports medicine professionals figure out how to manage foot blisters with ease. And for kicks, she enjoys providing blister care at multiday ultramarathon events.

Rebecca is the founder of Blister Prevention and author of "The Blister Prone Athlete's Guide To Preventing Foot Blisters".


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Rebecca Rushton

Rebecca is an Australian podiatrist with over 20 years experience. She has spent a lifetime dealing with her own blister prone feet in her sporting and everyday life. Rebecca specialises in helping athletes and sports medicine professionals figure out how to manage foot blisters with ease. And for kicks, she enjoys providing blister care at multiday ultramarathon events. Rebecca is the founder of Blister Prevention and author of both "The Blister Prone Athlete's Guide To Preventing Foot Blisters" and "The Advanced Guide to Blister Prevention".