Blisters: When Friction Is Unfriendly

Do you remember how you learned about friction in school? The teacher may have told you to put your hands together and rub them as fast as you could. The friction from your palms would have heated up your hands, making them hotter and hotter until you had to stop. When your skin rubs against anything for too long, eventually the irritation becomes too much—you get hurt. Blisters are like that. Sometimes they appear after walking long distances, a long basketball practice, an evening out dancing, or even just wearing your new work shoes. The more your skin rubs against your footwear, the more uncomfortable the spot becomes.

Skin Sores

Blisters are raised, fluid-filled bumps just under the upper layers of your skin. They form where there is consistent rubbing and pressure on an area. Though they generally stay small, the longer the irritation is present, the more likely they are to grow. They can be quite painful, especially if they are not protected and continue to be aggravated.

Padding the Problem

If a blister is protected and allowed to heal on its own, the fluid will be reabsorbed as new skin replaces the damaged areas. The fluid and intact old skin actually protects the place from infection as it heals. If the sore bursts and the fluid drains, however, the spot is opened and becomes vulnerable. If the draining fluid is yellow or puss-filled, the area is already infected and needs medical attention.

Padding the affected spot and eliminating the rubbing are the keys to allowing the blister to recover. If it continues to be irritated, the damage will keep occurring and healing will not take place. Cover the spot with a bandage and add padding to separate it from the irritant. You may also want to use antibiotic cream in the area to prevent infection in case the sore does rupture. If your blister has already burst, clean the area thoroughly with soap and water, then cover it with a topical antibiotic and a bandage. Again, take steps to eliminate what causes friction in that spot.

As a general rule, don’t try to puncture a blister on your own. Sometimes, if the sore is very painful and padding is not helping, releasing the fluid can make a difference—however, this should be done with sterile tools and topical medication to prevent infection. If you have a condition that compromises your immune system, like diabetes, never try to open a sore on your own. Instead, the experts at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle will treat the area to make sure it is properly covered and not infected, as well as look for the causes that led to the blister’s formation.

Pain-free Steps

Since these sores develop as a result of repeated friction in an area of your foot, your shoe choice makes a significant difference in protecting your feet from blisters. Wear roomy shoes that don’t cramp your toes, but also hold your foot firmly enough that it doesn’t slide around inside. Where they do rub, add extra padding, like a moleskin patch or even a custom orthotic. If you know specific toes or areas are prone to blisters from your athletic shoes, ask the foot specialists at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle about taping them to protect your skin.

The expert podiatrists at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle in Berkley, MI, understand that even common problems like blisters interrupt your life and keep you from doing what you love. They don’t have to stop your activities, however. With the right care, you can protect your sores, allow your skin to heal, and prevent future reoccurrences. More importantly, if you are a diabetic or have other conditions that put you at high risk for complications, don’t ignore a blister, even if it’s small. Seek help to avoid any infections that could require much more invasive treatments. Contact us today for an appointment. Receive more information by calling (248) 545-0100, or by visiting our online contact page.