How To Treat Blisters On Feet... Properly
Do you know how to get rid of blisters? Unfortunately, blister treatment is a skill a lot of people get wrong. They risk infection, delayed healing and simply making their blister more painful than it needs to be.
In spite of this, it's difficult to get some people to take blister treatment seriously. So at the end of this article, I'll show you 6 blister treatment fails that show you why it's important to treat a blister on your foot properly.
Let's begin. Let me show you how to get rid of blisters so you can wear your favourite shoes and continue your activity without them hurting.
How to treat blisters on feet... properly
First, what kind of blister have you got? Is it intact, torn or deroofed? Have a look at these example blisters to help you decide, then watch the video below.
Intact blister: Your main aim is to protect the blister roof. As long as is intact, it can't get infected.
Torn blister: Your main aim is to prevent infection now the blister is open.
Deroofed blister: Your main aim is to get good skin healing and preventing infection.
Your first priority: preventing infection
Your first blister treatment priority is to prevent infection. But it doesn't stop there. Monitor regularly for infection (every time you change your dressing). The signs of an infected blister include: pus; increasing pain, redness or heat around your blister; or red streaks extending from the blister. Here's how to ensure your blister doesn't get infected:
- Clean your hands - Apply antibacterial gel or soap and water to kill the germs on your hands.
- Clean your blister - If your blister is mucky with debris of any sort (dirt, drying blister fluid or blood) flush it with saline (salt water); or rinse it with soapy water or just water if that's all you've got. This will physically remove some of the germs from your blister.
- Disinfect your blister - Use and antiseptic or antibiotic to kill the remaining germs on your blister.
- Cover your blister - This will keep any new germs out. It will provide protection to your blister. And it will provide a healing environment for your blister. Remember, don't just use tape, it will rip your roof off. If in doubt, use an island dressing.
Choose the right blister treatment dressing (2 types)
There are two types of blister dressings yo can use. It's important to pick the right one for your blister.
1) Island dressings
Island dressings consist of an island of non-stick absorbent material in the middle, surrounded by an ocean of adhesive. The island cushions your blister a little and absorbs any blister fluids. The adhesive secures the dressing to your skin and locks the germs out on all sides. You can use an island dressing on ANY blister.
2) Hydrocolloid blister plasters
Hydrocolloid plasters are special blister dressings that should only be use on deroofed blisters. As the raw skin heals, it weeps. This weepiness comines with the hydrocolloid material to form a white gel underneath. This provides a perfect healing environment for your deroofed blister to heal fast. It also prevents the plaster from sticking to the wound and disrupting valuable healed tissue when it's removed. Read this to learn more, or watch the video below.
Hydrocolloid blister plasters are for deroofed blisters only!
Now you're ready to reduce pressure and friction levels
Once you've got the basics of blister treatment down, you're ready to start fixing the pressure and high friction levels that will help your blister hurt less and heal faster. Here's what you need to know:
The 6 Most Common Mistakes Treating Blisters
Fail 1) Not treating the blister at all and just putting your shoes back on
We know that the majority of blisters will spontaneously pop if you simply put your shoes back on and ignore it, opening it up to infection. Here's an example of the risks of non-treatment. Without putting too fine a point on it, it's limb-threatening. Just ask Kate Miller-Heidke - glad you're back on both feet Kate!
DON’T PANIC! This was a few weeks ago. I came back from Europe with a very serious infection which can end in amputation or even death. All from a blister. Anyone who has worn them knows high heels can can kill - but I never took it literally. #eurovision #thread pic.twitter.com/3iD560x6hN— Kate Miller-Heidke (@kmillerheidke) May 8, 2019
PS For anyone interested, I was diagnosed with cellulitis resulting from an infected blister. It’s the exact same disease Hilary Swank got while training for Million-Dollar baby so it’s definitely the most glamorous foot infection going around.#eurovision pic.twitter.com/qKj0tk4bjc— Kate Miller-Heidke (@kmillerheidke) May 8, 2019
Fail 2) Not applying an antiseptic
Blisters exist in the outer layer of skin. But their bottom layer is ever-so-close to the blood vessel layer. With continued insult to your blister as you continue to stand, walk or run, or simply allow your shoes to press on it, you’re risking the skin eroding a little deeper and allowing infection to occur. Dab a bit of antiseptic or antibiotic cream on it to take infection out of the equation – especially if you're treating a blood blister.
Blister treatment fail 2: Apply an antiseptic / antibiotic to prevent infection. The blister fluid in this blister is actually pus. Pus indicates infection and it's yellow and thicker than normal blister fluid which is thin and colourless.
Fail 3) Putting tape straight over the blister
The worst thing you can do it put tape over your blister because the weakened and damaged blister roof may be ripped off as you remove it. There are other downsides to putting tape directly on a blister too.
Blister treatment fail 3: Don't stick tape straight onto your blister. You'll rip the roof off.
Fail 4) Putting a hydrocolloid blister plaster on an intact or torn blister roof
This is a big mistake because these plasters are adhesive. Just like tape, as you go to remove it, you’ll probably tear your blister roof off and make the whole situation worse. What happened in this case (below) is the hydrocolloid stuck to this runner's intact blister roof AND his sock. So when he pulled his sock off, off came his blister roof too - what a mess!
Blister treatment fail 4: Hydrocolloids should only be used on deroofed raw blisters. This hydrocolloid went on an intact blister and ripped the roof back as it was removed.
Fail 5) "Letting the air get to it" so it scabs over
One of the least helpful things you can do to a deroofed blister is leave it open to "let the air get to it". Drying your blister out doesn't help it heal faster. In fact it heals slower. All that happens is you're letting a scab form. A scab isn't skin - it's dry weepy goo from your wound. It's brittle, it's inelastic and it's an irritant to healing. It's all too easy to break or dislodge a scab, only to be back at square one with your raw weepy blister base, which has been sitting underneath the scab all that time, trying unsuccessfully to heal. Raw blisters heal best with a moist environment. That's what your island dressing or hydrocolloid will provide. It might look gross when you take the dressing off and it might smell bad. But trust me, it helps strong, stretchy, resilient and healthy skin grow back over your blister.
Blister treatment fail 5: Letting the air get to it so a scab forms. Part of this scab has dislodged revealing the raw weepy blister base again.
Fail 6) Neglecting pressure and friction management
If your blister was on your leg or your hand, you wouldn't have to worry about pressure or friction so much. You'd easily and instinctively avoid it (like not holding things with your blistered finger). But we're talking about foot blisters - we have to walk on our feet and our shoes are constantly pressing on them and pressing toes together.
Click these links to learn more about how to take pressure off your blister and how to reduce friction levels. This is what will make your blister feel much less painful and allow it to heal faster. Because it will stop the skin stretching too much while it's trying to heal.
Watch the "How To Treat A Foot Blister" video
Make sure you've got the basics of how to treat a blister