Blisters: Prevention and Treatment

Nearly everyone is familiar with a blister. It is that annoying fluid-filled bubble that appears on your foot after wearing uncomfortable shoes for too long. Usually first aid can be administered at home without even stepping foot in a doctor’s office. However, some blisters are a result of a more serious condition. It’s important to know the difference so you can heal quickly.

What Is a Blister?

A blister is a bump on your skin that is filled with fluid. They are typically a result of friction between your skin and something else. They can be irritating and downright painful if they happen to be on a sensitive area. Most of them go away on their own, but others may be a result of something more serious. Other possible reasons include:

  • Contact dermatitis – a sensitivity to something you came into contact with, such as poison oak
  • Burns – from chemical, heat, or even sunburns
  • Impetigo – a bacterial infection found on the skin
  • Chickenpox
  • Shingles
  • Herpes

If any of these are the reason for the vesicles, you will want to seek immediate medical attention. However, if it’s a simple friction blister you can do some first aid to take care of it at home.

At-Home Care is Possible

Usually, you can simply let a blister be and it will disappear on its own in a couple of days. However, some are in a position where it may feel that you can’t even walk without severe pain. If this is the case you can drain it yourself. (If you have diabetes, don’t attempt this; come in to our office and let us do it safely.)

The first thing you will want to do is sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol. Then poke a few small holes in the bubble near the edge. Gently press on the blister with a piece of gauze or tissue while the fluid drains. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment. Then, cover it with a sterile bandage. You can repeat this procedure as many times as you need to until the lesion is completely gone.  If at any time you notice signs of infection (swelling or redness) you should contact our office immediately.

Prevention for Safety and Comfort

The best way to stay comfortable is to avoid developing a blister in the first place. Always make sure you are wearing socks with your shoes. The best kind are made out of synthetic fabric, which will wick away moisture and keep your feet dry. If there is no dampness, damage from friction is less likely to occur. If you are on your feet a lot or are very athletic, you might notice that certain areas of your feet are more susceptible to developing blisters. You can cover these areas with a bandage or padding before activity to keep them safe.

Seeking Medical Attention

If you’re not sure what caused the blister, or it is seriously painful and limiting your activity, contact us for an appointment. If you have diabetes, it is especially important to get expert care for any skin lesions you may have. Call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in one of our three offices.