Blister Business: How Do They Happen & What You Can Do About Them

close up of broken blister on heel of foot

Blisters – we have either had them before or know someone that has. Whether it is from that new pair of runners, the day after a hike or walk, wearing those new heels, a long day on your feet or even after playing football in new boots, we all know how painful they can be.

But what exactly is a blister?

A blister is a bubble shaped pocket of fluid that affects the outermost layer of our skin and is actually our body attempting to protect itself. Our feet are especially prone to developing blisters because the skin on our feet is hard and not flexible.

So, why am I getting blisters?

Typically, blisters are a direct result of a combination of the following factors:

  • Friction: Repetitive rubbing and movement of the skin on your feet against the inside of your shoe can cause blistering.  This is due to a shearing force that is essentially rubbing away the top layer of the skin, causing it to become red and sore.
  • Moisture: As we already know, friction is the main culprit for blistering, however, this process is accelerated with the addition of moisture.  Sweating in your socks or having wet footwear, actually softens your skin, thus making it easier to break down with repetitive friction.

How will I know if I have a blister?

If you think you might be developing blisters, there are some things to look out for on your feet:

  • Do you have any areas of redness on your feet when you take your shoes off? At the back of your heels, for example?
  • When wearing shoes, are you able to feel an area that is rubbing, or feels warm to touch?
  • Is there an area of raised skin that looks like a bubble and appears to have some fluid inside of it?
  • Is there an area of skin that is red and tender to touch?

If any of these sound like your feet, then you may have a blister forming, or you might already have one.  Luckily, we are here to help you resolve the blister and help prevent them from coming back.

Stages of Blisters

Blisters can be placed into stages which can help you in understanding how to best manage your blisters.

Stage 1 – No Blister – No Blister, No worries!  The skin on your foot is intact and there are no visible signs of rubbing, redness, or warm spots.

Stage 2 – Hot Spot – Have you noticed that a certain spot on your foot is red and/or warmer than anywhere else on your foot? Perhaps your heel for example? The skin is usually tender to touch, however, you’ve caught a blister before it has formed.  This means that treatment of the area can be done swiftly!

Stage 3 – Pocket of SkinDoes the blister on your foot have a layer of skin that is raised? It might almost be see-through, and potentially have some fluid underneath.  This stage means that the ‘roof’ or overlying skin is intact, which protects the new skin underneath while it heals. The fluid may appear clear, yellow, or even be filled with blood.

Stage 4 – Torn Roof – Can you see or feel a tear in the skin of your blister? The skin overlying your blister can break or tear. When this happens, fluid may come out of the blister and it is important to cover and protect the new skin while it heals.

Stage 5 – Deroofed – The protective layer of skin has completely gone and there is a red, raw, and sometimes painful new layer of skin present.  If this has occurred, it is important to cover the blister site to promote healing and prevent infections.

Help, I’ve got a new blister!

If you currently have a blister, the best thing you can do is to NOT pop it, as tempting as it may be.  In addition to not popping your blister, try to reduce the pressure directly on the blister.  Keeping the blister intact prevents an infection from getting in, and also gives the new skin time to repair and heal.  Airing your feet out and letting the skin dry is best initially.

My blister has burst – what should I do?

Do not stress, the skin covering the blister will break down over time, and sometimes even accidentally.  This is okay. The best thing you can do is to protect the healing skin.  To provide protection and prevent infection, you simply need to apply an antispetic like Betadine to the blister. Once you’ve applied the antiseptic, cover the area with a basic dressing, like a Band-Aid and the pad the area with foam.  Doing this will allow for the healing process to continue.

There is no skin over my blister and this hurts ALOT!

If there is no protective layer covering the red raw area of the skin, the best thing you can do is to keep off your feet as much as possible.  This area of the skin can be quite painful to touch.  Removing pressure from the area, and applying antiseptic with loose padded dressing can help relieve some of the pain.  A visit to Watsonia Podiatry can also help, as some blisters in this condition may require a special dressing.

Blisters are not fun, how can I stop them?

To effectively stop blisters in their tracks, prevention is key. Some of the things you can do to avoid blisters include:

  • Changing footwear. Shoes that are too tight or small can create friction and rubbing. If you are purchasing new shoes, take the time get the right fit and size.  Additionally, when you do purchase new shoes, take the time to break them in before full use. And try to wear shoes that are appropriate for the activity you are doing.
  • Keeping your feet dry and limit the amount of moisture your feet are exposed to.  Purchasing a pair of moisture wicking socks, ones that do not let moisture absorb on your skin will help you avoid unnecessary blisters.
  • If you experience rubbing between your toes consider using a silicone toe separator.
  • Change your socks daily.
  • Stop activity when you can feel rubbing in your shoe, and if you need to continue with the activity, apply tape, or some form of cushioning over the affected area.

Can Watsonia Podiatry help me?

YES! Please do not hesitate to make an appointment with us for a nagging blister that you may have. We are more than willing to help you get back moving again as your blister may be a result of your foot’s shape, the way you walk or due to your footwear. The team at Watsonia Podiatry can assist you in answering any questions or concerns you may have and working out the cause of the blisters you are getting.

Call us on (03) 9432 2689 or Book an Appointment online.





Aaron Dri