How to prevent foot blisters
Blisters, particularly on the feet, are painful, unpleasant to look at and can make walking very difficult. If you regularly walk or run, you’ll know the pain and discomfort of these sores.
So how can you prevent blisters on your feet and what are the dos and don’ts of treating a blister should you get one? Read on to find out more.
Why do we get blisters?
Blisters are fluid-filled lumps or ‘bubbles’ that can appear anywhere on the skin but they’re most commonly found on the feet. Blisters form when there is friction against the skin, for instance, if your shoe or sock rubs against your heel, ankle or toes for long enough, the skin will become red and inflamed and eventually a blister will form.
Ill-fitting shoes are usually the culprit. Shoes that are too big or too tight cause friction against the skin when you walk or run.
Wet or damp feet from wet weather or sweating can also cause these bubbles to appear. Whilst friction is the main reason why blisters form on the feet, it can also happen due to allergic reactions, sunburn, frostbite, burns or a skin infection. If you believe any of these could be the cause, speak to your doctor about treatment, otherwise, you can treat blisters yourself at home.
How to treat blisters at home
Unless the blister is showing signs of infection - for example, there is discharge coming from the blister that is yellow or green in colour, or the area around the blister is red, hot or painful - there is no need to visit your GP for treatment, although you can speak to your pharmacist for advice if the blister is particularly bothersome.
Blisters can take a few days/weeks to fully heal, and the best thing you can do to help the blister heal effectively and quickly is to not wear the same shoes that probably caused the problems in the first place.
To prevent further friction and opening up the wound, cover the blister with cushioned plasters or gauze. Before you do this, though, clean the area as soon as you notice the blister with a mild soap, taking care not to worsen the condition. You can also use an antiseptic cream to prevent infection.
Here are some things to avoid when it comes to treating blisters:
- Don’t pop or drain the blister yourself. If the blister pops on its own, clean your hands before and after touching it
- As the area heals it may become itchy, but avoid scratching or picking at the affected area - doing so could cause an infection
How to prevent blisters from forming on your feet
If you regularly suffer from foot blisters, the most essential advice you’ll take away from this guide is how to prevent them.
Wear well-fitting shoes
This is important as your shoes are likely causing friction. If they’re too big, too small, or simply not designed for the activity, your feet will suffer the consequences. Ensure your shoes fit comfortably around your feet and are not tight around areas that are prone to blistering such as your heel, ankle and toes.
If your shoes are new, break them in by wearing them around the house for a little while to loosen them up and make them more comfortable for when you wear them for a longer period of time.
Socks provide a buffer between your shoe and your skin. You can also get socks designed to protect against blisters, they are cushioned around the heel and ankle to stop the shoe from rubbing against your skin while you walk.
Keep your feet clean and dry
As a rule of thumb, your feet should be cleaned every day and dried thoroughly. This not only prevents infections such as Athlete’s foot, but it can also keep blisters at bay. The skin around your feet can become weak due to excessive moisture, warmth and pressure when walking - making your feet prone to blisters.
Too much moisture and you’re at risk of infections and blisters, but dry and cracked skin on your feet can cause the same problems. Dry and broken skin makes it prone to inflammation and blistering. Avoid this by taking care of the health of your skin. After washing your feet, apply an emollient to lock in moisture and prevent damage.
The key is to wear breathable shoes so your feet don’t become too warm and moist throughout the day.
If a blister is forming, stop activity
The first signs of a blister are redness and inflammation around the area where there is friction, you may also start to feel pain. If this is the case, don’t continue to walk in the same footwear. You can stop a blister in its tracks by stopping the friction and resting up.
There are also preventative treatments available such as the Compeed Anti-Blister Stick designed to lubricate the area and reduce chafing against the skin. It’s also invisible so you can use it with any type of footwear.
Foot blisters and diabetes
Blisters can be even more troublesome if you have diabetes. This is because those who have diabetes are at risk of serious foot problems. Nerve damage and blood circulation problems caused by diabetes can result in loss of sensation in this area of the body so it can be difficult to spot sores, wounds, and other injuries on the feet, and it can take longer for them to heal.
If you’re diabetic, take extra care when comes to looking after your feet. Blisters can form pretty easily so it’s something to be aware of when choosing footwear and when embarking on long walking trips.
As well as the above advice, here are some more tips on how to look after your feet if you have diabetes.