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What are blisters? What are the causes and how can we prevent them?


A blister is a small pocket of fluid in the upper skin layers and is a common response to injury or friction. The feet are particularly prone to blisters. Ill-fitting shoes or friction can damage the skin, and a blister forms to cushion the area from further damage as it heals.

Depending on the cause and location, a blister can range from the size of a pinprick to three centimetres or more in diameter. A blood blister is usually caused by a severe pinch or bruise to the skin that breaks the tiny blood vessels (capillaries).

Causes of blisters

Some common causes of blisters include:

  • ill-fitting shoes
  • friction (for example, using a shovel all day without gloves can cause blisters on the palms of the hands)
  • scalds or burns
  • severe sunburn
  • allergic reaction to irritants
  • viral skin infection (such as herpes or warts)
  • fungal skin infection (such as tinea on the soles of the feet or between the toes).

Blisters can become a more serious concern if you have diabetes as they may not heal so easily.  It is important to act immediately if you feel any friction or discomfort as blisters can form very quickly. Stop walking or running and examine your feet and if nothing has developed, consider applying some material or padding to cushion the area or even a breathable waterproof plaster.

If a blister does occur, do not pop it. Cut a hole in a piece of foam or felt to form a doughnut over the blister. Tape the foam or felt in place or cover with a soft gel-type dressing.  Treat an open blister with mild soap and water, apply an antiseptic ointment and cover with a protective soft gel dressing to prevent infection and speed up the healing process.

Prevention of blisters

Blister prevention strategies include:

  • Wear properly fitted shoes.
  • Choose moisture-wicking socks (socks that draw sweat away from your feet) or change socks twice daily if you have sweaty feet, as wet socks cause friction and rubbing.
  • Wear ‘sports socks’ when exercising or playing sports.
  • If you become aware of a localised ‘hot’ area on your foot, stop your sport and tape the area immediately.
  • Apply a foot spray deodorant to reduce sweating and the risk of fungal infection.
  • Change damp socks promptly, as wet socks can drag against the skin.
  • Wear heavy-duty work gloves when using tools such as shovels or picks.
  • Protect yourself against sunburn with clothing, hats and sunscreen lotions.
  • Avoid unnecessary skin contact with chemicals.
  • Be careful when dealing with steam, flames or objects that radiate heat (such as electric stovetops).

If the blister becomes excessively painful, there is redness and swelling, with or without a yellow or green discharge, it might be infected and you should seek immediate medical care.

One of our podiatrist can assist and help what treatment options are best for you.
Schedule an appointment here or you may call us at 44 (0) 207 101 4000. 📞



We hope you have a feetastic day! 👣☀️

-The Chelsea Clinic and Team



Check our latest blog about 5th Metatarsal Fracture here👣💥⚠️/

Check our blog about Cracked heels here

Read our blog about Cold Feet and Hot/Sweaty Feet here

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