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The Smart Way to Treat a Blister

Foot blisters rarely take us by surprise. You’re out for a hike, and pressure from your new boots turns the back of your heel a troublesome shade of red. You know you’re close to getting a blister. Or you pull off your running shoes at the end of a race and find the source of that aching on the side of your big toe: a large new blister, as you suspected.

How blisters form

The repeated friction of a sock or shoe can quickly irritate the skin. It may be because the sock or shoe is too tight or too loose. Another reason might be you’ve just been at the same activity for a long time – which is why blisters are so common with long-distance runners. In any case, the skin reacts by forming a cushion – a round or oval-shaped sac of fluid that acts as a protective barrier against further harm.

Blisters can also form when the skin is exposed to infections, allergies, burns, autoimmune diseases, chemicals, or extremely cold temperatures. When you get a blister on your foot, however, the most likely culprit is the one you expected: friction.

How to treat them

Here’s a question that pops up at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center almost as often as blisters do: should I pop a blister or leave it alone? Play it safe, says board-certified podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM, and leave it alone. Protect your blister from further irritation by covering it with a protective bandage. It will soon shrink and peel away, and newly grown skin will cover the formerly blistered area.

However, there are some instances when you should play it smart and call our Fairfax County podiatry office:

  • You have diabetes. It’s essential that people with diabetes refrain from treating a blister at home.
  • The area is warm, red, or oozing pus. You probably have an infection.
  • You’re prone to getting blisters in the same area all the time. You may need help choosing different socks or shoes, or your gait may need fixing.
  • You have no idea how you got the blister.

For expert treatment of blisters and all other foot and ankle complaints, call our office in Centreville, Virginia at (703) 996-3000. You may also contact us online for an appointment.

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