What exactly is a blister?
A blister is a fluid filled sac or raised lesion that develops between the layers of skin. Most blisters are filled with serous or clear fluid. If the fluid is yellow in color, thick, or has a foul odor; the blister should evaluated by a medical professional. The most common complication of a blister is infection, or cellulitis. Blisters typically develop from shear or friction as result of poor fitting shoe gear or areas of increased pressure.
What are the best ways to prevent blisters?
There are numerous ways to prevent the formation of blisters. All of these treatments are intended to reduce the amount of shear forces and friction.
Wear proper fitting socks and inserts: It is important to have shoe fit evaluated by an experienced specialist or physician. Orthotics and shoe modification can reduce pressure areas and help to control foot deformities. An appointment with a podiatrist can evaluate for any foot deformities and gait abnormalities.
Choose proper socks: Synthetic and wicking socks remove moisture from the surface of skin better than traditional cotton socks. Reducing the amount of moisture can reduce the risk of skin breakdown and blister formation. Wearing two pair of socks can also reduce shear forces.
Treat “hotspots” early and aggressively: Padding, taping, and bandaging areas that prone to blisters can prevent the development of a hotspot or irritation. Common areas include prominences from bunions, hammertoes, heel and bone spurs. Covering these areas with moleskin or bandage products such as “Blist-O-Ban” can significantly reduce shear and prevent blister formation.
Vaseline, antiperspirants, and powders. Although these products can reduce friction and moisture, there is little evidence to support their use and individual results vary significantly.
What is the best way to treat a blister?
Despite your best efforts to reduce shear and friction a blister still develops, now what?
For blisters that are small and not causing pain, it is recommended to keep the roof of the blister intact. Cover the blister with a non-adherent bandage and pad the area. It is important to monitor the blister for any drainage or increases in size.
When roof of the blister is torn is importance to keep the area clean to reduce the risk of infection. Apply an antiseptic such as betadine or antibiotic ointment, then cover the area with a non-adherent bandage and pad the area. Monitor the area for any signs of infection including: redness, warmth, swelling, increased pain or drainage, and foul order. If any signs of infection develop, seek medical attention early to prevent the infection from worsening or spreading.
Blisters that are large or painful should be evaluated by a medical professional so that the blister can be treated in clean, sterile environment.
If the blister is filled with yellow or darkened fluid, has surrounding warmth or redness, or foul odor, medical attention should be pursued immediately, as these may be signs of underlying infection. Individuals with medical conditions including diabetics, neuropathy, vascular disease, and immune compromise should seek medical attention immediately. As these patients have a higher risk of developing complications and infection. With proper treatment most blisters resolve without any complication or infection.
The physicians at University Foot and Ankle Institute are nationally recognized leaders in the treatment of the foot and ankle conditions. If you would like more information or would like to schedule an appointment, we encourage you to call us at (877) 989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.
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