Blisters are never fun, no matter what caused them or where they happen to be located. That said, blisters on the feet are a particularly great annoyance, for a number of reasons. When located in high-pressure, weight-bearing locations, blisters are more likely to cause constant pain, more likely to rupture, and more likely to negatively affect your ability to accomplish ordinary tasks. Furthermore, they’re double trouble for people with diabetes, since reduced circulation to the feet makes a popped blister much more likely to result in a dangerous infection.
So, how do you deal? That depends on whether the blister itself still has its roof intact. (We generally don’t recommend draining at home.) If it is, you’ll want to clean and protect the blister to prevent it from tearing. The best choice is a donut-shaped moleskin pad—you don’t want to stick anything to the blister itself, but you do want to protect it and keep pressure and friction to an absolute minimum. Then, go easy for a while. Avoid the activity that caused the blister in the first place (such as running), stay off your feet as much as possible, and give the spot time to heal.
If the blister roof has torn, you’ll need to take more active steps to avoid infection. Wash thoroughly with mild soap and water (avoid cleansers like alcohol or iodine), then apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. It’s a good idea to change the bandage daily and monitor for any signs of infection, such as pain, swelling, fever, or pus, among others.
If you have diabetes or any other condition that compromises your circulation or immune system (such as HIV, heart disease, or cancer), the safest choice is to make an appointment with Family Foot and Ankle Center—especially if the blister has popped. Definitely don’t drain the area yourself—the infection risk is far too high. If necessary, we can safely drain the blister for you and provide the bandaging and antibiotics you’ll need to stay healthy and safe.
Finally, if you find foot blisters are a chronic, regular problem, consider rethinking your prevention strategy (or putting one in place). Your shoes and socks are often the first place to look—too loose or too tight, especially when combined with vigorous athletic activity, can create the kind of painful friction that forms blisters in the first place.
If you need help dealing with foot blisters, call Cincinnati’s foot and ankle experts. We have six locations in and around the city, in Ohio and Kentucky, to provide care. To schedule an appointment, dial 888-689-3317 or contact us online.