Blisters – what they are and how to prevent them

Blisters – what are they?

A blister is a small pocket of clear fluid, under a layer of skin. Some blisters are filled with blood as opposed to clear fluid, these are called blood blisters. Blisters can be found on any area of the foot or leg. Depending on cause, blisters can last days – months.

What causes a blister?

  • Any irritation to the foot, such as friction from shoes rubbing against the foot.
  • Extreme temperatures can also cause irritation leading to blisters, this can include sunburn. (Feet and legs are a common area for Malignant Melanomas, so careful to always apply sunscreen to your feet and legs)
  • Allergies such as contact dermatitis can result in blisters. These are usually caused by contact with an irritant such poison ivy.
  • Infectious conditions such as chicken pox or shingles can cause blistering, however these would not be isolated to your lower limbs .

What can I do to prevent blisters?

To reduce blisters caused by mechanical irritation

  • Make sure to have properly fitting shoes. Any leather shoes that are new and firm, you can take a hammer and gently hammer the inside to soften any hard areas of shoe (careful not to damage the shoe though!)
  • Always wear socks, especially when exercising to absorb all sweat to reduce friction burns
  • Apply talc to the feet to reduce the moisture levels, and reduce friction caused by sweaty feet

How to treat blisters?

Don’t pop your blisters, try to leave them alone. The blister forms to help protect the underlying skin, breaking that barrier can increase the risk of infection. This is especially important if you are diabetic.

If possible apply a dry dressing such as a plaster to the blister until fully healed. 

If the blister breaks, carefully clean and apply a dressing or plaster. 

If the blister is particularly large, see a Podiatrist who can safely drain the blister. For any concerns, or advice on healing see your Podiatrist, or your GP