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The FootSmart Health Resource Center

Blisters

FootSmart Health Facts from The Podiatry Institute 
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Those circumscribed, elevated, fluid filled lesions that often appear on your feet, known as blisters, can feel excruciating. Though blisters are benign, this disabling condition can prevent you from carrying out your normal daily routine, as blisters can make even walking painful.

Causes:
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Blisters on the feet most commonly result from excessive friction and pressure. For example, if a sock is pinched between the shoe and the skin with repeated rubbing, a blister will develop.

Other causes of blisters include:

  • Primary irritants
  • Skin inflammation due to allergic contact with substances
    such as poison ivy or poison oak
  • Sunburn
  • Burns
  • Insect bites
  • Viral infections such as herpes or varicella
  • Severe systemic conditions that require immediate
    medical attention
Symptoms:
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If a puffy, liquid-filled bubble appears on your foot, you most likely
have a blister.

  • A larger blister, called a bulla, is typically greater than five millimeters in diameter.
  • Small blisters, or vesicles, measure smaller than five millimeters in diameter.
Relief:
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If you have already developed a blister, the best thing you can do is to keep the area clean and protected, and do not continue wearing the item that caused the blister in the first place.

If the blister feels painful, tepid soaks using a hypertonic solution or astringent, such as water and Epsom salts, may aid in resolution.

It is not necessary to "break" a blister, and if performed, should be done under strict sterile conditions. In addition, "de-roofing" a blister is not recommended, as the skin provides a barrier to infection.

Small lesions will typically recede on their own, but massive blisters
from burns need immediate medical attention, as fluid loss may be
life threatening.

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