Who hasn’t had a blister at some point in their life? If you’ve got a blister on your foot, you’ll know it pretty quickly. However, knowing what to do with that painful, fluid-filled bump is another story. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, the board-certified podiatrist at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center, is here to help you make sense of the assorted advice you may have heard about caring for a blister.

Why do blisters form?

Skin is sensitive. Repeated friction, rubbing, or excess pressure on sensitive skin can cause blisters on your feet. For example, if you go on a hike wearing shoes that are too small, the pressure on your heel can cause a blister. Similarly, your feet can slide around in shoes that are too big. The repetitive rubbing of the toe against the toe box can aggravate the skin into a blister.

Leave ‘em alone

Dr. Wilhelm recommends that you don’t pop a blister. As annoying as it may be, the bubble is there to protect the damaged skin beneath it. Popping a blister will open the skin up to infection. The best way to treat a blister is to leave it alone. It may help to cover it loosely with a bandage. If a blister pops on its own, wash it gently with soap and water. Leave the skin flap in place, coat the area with antibacterial ointment, and cover it with a clean bandage.

When to see the doctor

Be wary of blisters on your feet that aren’t caused by obvious friction from shoes. They can be a sign of the viral infection HFM (hand, foot, and mouth disease) or a systemic disease such as eczema, shingles, or chicken pox. If you notice blisters on your feet that seem to have popped up out of nowhere, accompanied by pain, a fever or a feeling of malaise, consult your doctor.

Diabetics should be extra vigilant about

  • wearing shoes that don’t rub
  • making sure a blister is healing properly
  • calling us at the first sign of trouble.

For the treatment of blisters that keep coming back in the same place, large, painful blisters, blisters that ooze or smell, or blisters that just won’t heal, contact us in Centreville, Virginia. Our number in Fairfax County is (703) 996-3000. You may also schedule an appointment online.

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