Have you ever had a blister on your foot or heal? They can be very painful. What causes them and what is the best treatment?
Blisters are small pockets of fluid within the upper layers of the skin, typically caused by friction. They can also be caused from burning, freezing, chemical exposure or infection. Most blisters are filled with a clear fluid called serum or plasma. However, blisters can also be filled with blood or with pus (if they become infected).
Intense rubbing can cause a blister, as can any friction on the skin if continued for any length of time. These blisters are most common after walking long distances or wearing a poorly-tuned new pair of shoes. Tennis players and guitarists are often culprits of blisters on their hands and fingers. The most common places for blisters are on your feet and hands. Blisters form more easily on moist skin than on dry skin. They are also more common in warm conditions. Less aggressive rubbing over long periods of time may cause calluses to form rather than a blister. Both blisters and calluses can lead to more serious complications if infection occurs.
Fingers and hands are more likely to have blisters formed from burns. First and second degree burns may result in blistered skin; however, it is characteristic of second degree burns to blister immediately. First degree burns can have blisters after a couple of days. Skin in general, can have blisters caused from sunburn.
Blisters on the feet can be treated with antibiotic ointment and/or blister pads. They can be bought individually or as a conveniently packaged blister kit. Before ever touching a blister however, your hands should be thoroughly washed to minimize the risk of infection. If the blister has already popped, do not attempt to remove the layer of skin. It is this skin layer that provides some protection to the layer under it. Apply the antibiotic ointment and place a bandage over the area. The area should be kept as dry as possible. The bandage will need to be changed daily or more frequently if it becomes wet or soiled.
Because blisters can be very painful, it may be best to pop them. Blisters should only be popped with a clean, sterile needle. Dipping the needle in rubbing alcohol is sufficient for sterilization. Gently poke the blister and allow the fluid to drain. Do not remove the skin over the blistered area. Apply a topical antibiotic ointment and loosely cover with a bandage.
Blisters on hands and fingers caused from playing tennis can be treated with a product called 2nd skin. Some guitarists will put tape on their finger tips or use super glue to form a layer over the blister for protection.
Prevention is always best! This can be achieved by wearing blister-free socks that allow the feet to breathe while providing a cushion for the feet. Blisters are generally caused by friction and by minimizing the amount of friction between the shoe and the foot can help reduce the risk of a blister developing. It is also important that socks and shoes are kept dry. When breaking in a new pair of shoes, it is helpful to apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the heel or area where the shoe is rubbing the most. This provides a layer of lubricant and can help prevent blisters.