A foot blister might not seem that important, but it can be a frustrating problem that can make it painful to simply walk to your front door. Here are some ways to avoid developing blisters on your feet, and some tips on what to do should one occur.
1. Buy the Right Shoes
One of the most important things you can do to avoid a foot blister is to wear the right shoes, especially if you’re active and do a lot of running. While you want a secure fit, of course, you don’t want them to be too tight. Try to find shoes that leave enough room for you to wiggle your toes.
Take your time when buying your next pair of shoes. Walk around the store and make sure your feet are comfortable. Don’t simply grab the first pair in your size because different manufacturers often use different specifications when making footwear.
One brand’s size 8 won’t fit the same foot as another brand’s.
Also, try to avoid wearing high-heeled shoes that are narrow in the toe area. These kinds of shoes can put a lot of pressure on the ball of the foot, making you more susceptible to blisters. Flip-flops can also be bad because of the pressure they put on your toes, which will usually have to work hard in order to keep the sandals from sliding off of your foot.
2. Know When to Shop for Shoes
Try to shop for shoes later in the afternoon or evening to account for any swelling in your feet that might occur. Feet can swell by nearly 10 percent over the course of the day and that can make a major difference in how your shoes fit.1 Just because your shoes might feel good when you put them on in the morning doesn’t mean they’ll feel the same when you get home at night.
Once you find the right shoe, don’t immediately start wearing them for several hours a day. Wear them around the house for a couple of hours first so you can break them in and they can conform to the shape of your foot. Try to switch out shoes frequently if you can. This will lower the chances that a blister will occur because your foot won’t continue to be rubbed in the same spot.
3. Sock it to Me!
Also, the socks you wear can have a major impact on your ability to prevent developing blisters as well. Try to find socks that wick moisture (such as the new breed of lightweight wool socks) if possible. Most people wear cotton socks because they do a good job of absorbing moisture. But when they get damp they can rub against the foot and lead to a blister. If you tend to develop blisters easily, consider wearing two pairs of socks instead of one for an extra layer of protection.2
Insoles can be a huge help in making sure your shoes fit correctly and also helping prevent the formation of foot blisters.3 You can find them at just about any shoe store or pharmacy. Insoles come in a lot of different varieties, such as rubber, gel, and others, and are made to conform to the shape of your foot.
4. Friction is Your Enemy
Blisters typically develop from friction, and although taking precautions such as buying the right shoes, wearing the right socks and using insoles should help, if you’re prone to blisters you might need to do more to keep them from coming back.
For example, you could use an absorbent foot powder to help keep your feet dry or even use a cream or ointment, such as FoodMedix, to protect against chafing. Some people even use small amounts of blister bandages to help keep blisters from developing. Be careful about using any product that contains talc, however. The substance has been linked to health problems.
If you’re going on a long run or taking a hike through the woods, make sure you’re prepared. Bring some extra tape or ointment in case you start feeling some discomfort.
5. Caring For a Blister
Sometimes, no matter how many precautions you take, you can still end up with a painful, frustrating blister. If you start feeling discomfort and your skin is turning red, stop what you’re doing. If a blister occurs, refrain from participating in any activity that will further irritate the area.
While most foot blisters heal on their own within a week or two, there are a few things that you can do to help protect the area in the meantime. First, use a bandage to loosely cover it. A certain amount of air still needs to get to the area so it can heal, so make sure the portion of the bandage covering the blister is raised a little bit.
Whatever you do… avoid popping or draining the blister — that can increase your risk of developing a potentially dangerous infection.
6. Instead of Popping, Try This
Now, there are times where a blister can become extremely large. If this happens to you, use rubbing alcohol to sterilize a needle and gently pierce one side of the blister so it can drain. Never remove the top of the blister, because this protects the skin as it heals.
But you will have to be extremely diligent in keeping the blister clean if you pop it or if it pops on its own. Don’t pick at the skin – thoroughly wash the area with soap and water and then apply some petroleum jelly to help reduce the risk of infection.
7. Know When to See a Doctor
Usually, the blister will heal when new skin grows underneath it. Your body will reabsorb the fluid in the blister, and the damaged skin will eventually dry up and fall off. But there are some times where you might need to see a doctor.
For example, if the blister becomes infected you’ll need to seriously consider getting medical help.
It will be painful and hot to the touch and be filled with pus that will be either greenish or yellowish in color. If the blister keeps coming back, you might also need to see a doctor to treat any potential underlying condition that is contributing to the problem.
The Bottom Line
While there are many things you can do to help prevent a blister, sometimes one will develop despite your best efforts. If it does, taking steps to address it as soon as possible could help keep a minor issue from becoming a major problem.