To pop (or not to pop) a blister

So, Fall is here and you decided to wear those cute new ankle boots to meet your friends for brunch. Then, y'all decided to walk, talk, sip on pumpkin spice lattes, and window shop. Well, you ended up walking a whole lot longer than you had planned and those low-riding ankle socks aren't doing you any favours. Your feet have been rubbing against leather for the last six blocks. and now you've got blisters and you're feet are killing you. What do you do? Dr. Gotham?

 

Blisters are caused by friction, which generally occurs because the skin is constantly rubbing against a surface. The best way to prevent blisters is to ensure that your shoes fit properly and are broken in correctly. 

 

Shoes should accommodate your feet and not the other way around. There is a natural give for shoes as they will accommodate your feet more comfortably after several days of use but overall shoes should feel as comfortable as possible when you first try them on at the store to avoid damaging your feet.  

 

You should always buy your shoes in the evening when your feet are most swollen. If the shoe feels comfortable at the end of the day they will most likely feel comfortable throughout the day. The best way to break in shoes is to wear them in two hour increments per day for four days and then wear all day on the fifth day. In other words you wear the shoe for two hours the first day and then change shoes. The second day you wear them for four hours, the third day for six hours, and so forth. This allows the shoe to expand gradually while minimizing any pressure or friction that would otherwise cause pain or discomfort, swelling, calluses, and blisters. Dr. Gotham's recommendations apply to all types of shoes.

  

Now, you're probably thinking: Ya, that's great advice, Dr. Gotham, but it's too late. I have the blisters already. What should I do now? Pop it? Don't pop it?

 

Whatever you do, do NOT remove the top layer of skin from your blister.  It will only cause the blister to become more painful and expose yourself to more bacteria which could develop into an infection. Instead, you should lance the blister. Take a clean, disinfected needle, and poke the blister from the side to drain the fluid. Once the fluid is removed, the pressure will subside. Then, soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in lukewarm water with Epsom salt. Using Betadine to help dry up the blister will speed up the healing process.

 

What is Betadine, you ask? Betadine is a medicated solution that helps to heal minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Many people think they should apply Neosporin to a blister, but that doesn’t help dry it out. We have normal hydration to our bodies so whenever something is too wet, you want to dry it out. Whenever something’s too dry, you want to wet it. While Neosporin is great for something like a scab, Betadine is much better for blisters because the underlying skin is wet and raw. An epsom salt foot soak is ideal as well because it contains magnesium which reduces swelling and pain associated with blisters. Magnesium can help irrigate, cleanse, and dry out blisters which also helps reduce the painful rawness of blisters, while expediting the healing time.

 

Dr. Gotham has more advice for you… for next time. Make sure you are wearing the right socks.  Avoid cotton socks because cotton retains moisture as your feet sweat which then maserates your skin leaving it more prone to breaking with repetitive friction, which then produces blisters. Synthetic socks made of acrylic or polypropylene are preferred as these materials wick away moisture.  Double layering your socks can also help prevent blisters by reducing friction and wicking away moisture.

 

Lubricate your feet around pressure areas to reduce friction so your socks and shoes slide around the areas rather than rub. Friction creates heat and shearing forces which break down the skin leading to blisters. If you minimize friction you minimize blisters. You can use the following products: petroleum jelly, Sport Shield, Sports Slick, Run Goo, or Body Glide. Keep the rest of your feet dry by using baby powder or talcum powder. Antiperspirant may also be used to help keep feet dry. Hydration is important to maintain electrolyte balance as dehydration can contribute to the formation of blisters. Minimize hotspots that are prone to blistering. Make sure to protect sensitive areas by covering them to prevent friction that may lead to blisters. There are several options, including sports tape, moleskin, gel bandages, and blister Band-aids, such as HYDRO Seal. Dr Scholl's Blister Treatment Cushions are recommended to help treat and prevent blisters.

 

Prevention is key with blisters but Dr. Gotham's recommendations will quickly get you back on your feet. Call us if you have any questions.

 

Oh, and those cute little boots… work them in slowly. Happy Fall!



Author
Ana Couto Gotham Footcare's very own Creative Director and Patient Relations Manager enjoys sharing the knowledge of everything involving "heels and footcare health" that she has learned along the years working with her husband, New York City's favorite podiatrist Dr. Miguel Cunha.

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