Don’t you hate it when your feet don’t feel right? If you notice sore spots where the skin has formed bumps that are soft and squishy and filled with fluid, you have developed blisters. Now you need to figure out why they are there, and what you should do about them.
Blisters from Within and Without
These little bubbles of fluid can appear from a myriad of causes. Diseases like chicken pox, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or autoimmune conditions can cause your body to break out, as can certain medications. They can also be caused by something outside the body. Contact dermatitis from chemicals or toxic plants such as poison ivy is one culprit, but spider bites, sunburn, a hard pinch on the skin, and frostbite are others. One of the most common factors for these sores on the feet is your footwear.
When Shoes Hurt instead of Protect
Shoes that don’t fit well can pinch or rub against the skin of your feet, causing the skin to change. If it is low-level friction over a long period of time, the skin may build up extra layers to protect itself and you may develop a callus or a corn. These bumps occur when the friction is more intense over a shorter time. On your hands, they could form between your thumb and first finger from an afternoon of heavy raking. On your feet, going for a run in a new pair of shoes could have you limping home with a huge blister at the back of your heel or the side of your big toe. When the shoe or sock doesn’t fit properly, it rubs against your foot, pushing the top layer of skin back and forth with each stride. Your body responds to the injury by rushing more white blood cells to the area, building up extra fluid under the skin layer, and giving you a blister.
Keeping Bumps at Bay
To prevent these skin lesions, you need to avoid what is causing them. Keep your distance from people who have infectious diseases like chicken pox or impetigo, and cover up your skin if you are outdoors where poisonous plants grow. Take care at work if there is a chance of contact with chemicals and wear protective gear.
For friction blisters caused by shoes, purchase a pair that has room for your toes and doesn't slide up and down on your heel. Learn how to lace shoes correctly, and avoid sudden increases in intensity or length of activity. You can also protect your skin at vulnerable spots by wearing a moleskin pad at the point of irritation.
Treating Bubbled Skin
If you have a mild lesion, it is best to let it heal on its own. Leaving the skin unbroken keeps bacteria away and decreases the chance that it will become infected. You need only cover it with an adhesive bandage. If you are allergic to the adhesive coating, try a gauze pad with paper tape. If the skin has broken, use a dab of antibiotic cream or gel before covering with a bandage.
If the blister is very large and causing you pain or making it impossible to walk, you can try to drain it. Wash your hands and the affected area with warm, soapy water, and then use iodine or rubbing alcohol to sterilize the blistered area. Sterilize a small, sharp needle with an alcohol wipe, and make several small pricks along the edge of the bubble. Let it drain, keeping the skin flap in place, apply antibiotic and bandage as above. When a new layer of skin has formed underneath, the dead skin can be clipped away using sterilized tweezers and scissors.
If you have diabetes, don’t try to deal with any blistering on your feet yourself—the risks of further damage and infection are too high. Contact Palmer Foot Clinic and let Podiatrist Iain Palmer treat it professionally. You also need to come in if there is any pus or redness in the area, as it may have become infected. Call our Winnipeg, MB, office at (204) 697-0649 and let us get your feet back to normal.