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Martin Foot & Ankle

Blister: Painful Skin Bubbles

Skin is smooth, soft, and flexible—or at least it’s supposed to be. Plenty of problems can make skin rough, stiff, and hard. Some irritation can even make bubble-like bumps in the tops layers of your skin. These “bubbles” are blisters, of course, and they are very uncomfortable when they develop on your feet.

Painful BlistersNatural, Painful Bubbles

A blister is a small sore in the skin that develops under intense friction or pressure. Rubbing and irritation cause the top layers of skin to separate from the lower layers. Your body fills the space between them with fluid, forming a type of bubble. Much like bubble wrap, this raised bump is actually meant to protect the vulnerable, sensitive skin underneath it from friction and damage. Unfortunately, this bubble is usually uncomfortable and can make it difficult for you to wear some shoes or even walk around.

Occasionally, other issues besides friction can cause blisters to form. Some chemicals can irritate the skin and damage the outer layers. Extreme heat, like a sunburn, can form blisters as well. Some uncomfortable diseases like chicken pox or impetigo can also create this little sore. On a rare occasion, fluid-filled vesicles are actually the result of abnormal skin conditions that need treatment.

The Pain and the Risk

A blister can form anywhere on your body, but your feet have a particularly high risk. They constantly deal with pressure and friction when you stand or walk. Certain shoes can make the pressure and rubbing on your skin even worse, leading to the little sores. This particular skin issue is not just uncomfortable, though—it also increases your risk for infections. Blisters could potentially serve as openings to the rest of the body, especially if they rupture. Keep an eye on your blister and look for signs of infection, such as radiating heat or oozing pus.

Deflating the Bubble and Healing the Sore

Treating skin problems like blisters is important to help prevent infections as well as alleviate your pain. A word of caution: if you have a condition like diabetes, a sore like this can quickly deteriorate into an ulcer, so you need immediate professional help. For most others, however, taking care of a blister is simpler. Wash the bump with soap and water. You don’t need to drain the fluid—your body naturally reabsorbs it as the spot heals—so avoid popping the bubble, since an open sore sharply increases your infection risk. Carefully cover the spot with a bandage instead. If it’s under a high pressure area, pad it with a moleskin or donut-shaped cushion. If the blister appears infected, get prompt help. Our Martin Foot and Ankle podiatrists will safely drain the infected fluid and treat the problem.

Protecting the Skin to Prevent Vesicles

Since friction is the primary culprit for blisters on the feet, minimizing rubbing on your lower limbs can make a big difference for preventing the problem. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well, have sufficient padding in the sole, and don’t squeeze any part of your lower limbs. Add pads to areas that seem to receive a lot of rubbing to add an extra layer of protection. Fitted, moisture-wicking socks can help with this. If you frequently get blisters in the same place, you may have a biomechanical issue and might find orthotics helpful for protecting that spot.

Blisters are uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be a problem. Don’t ignore sores on your lower limbs, no matter how small they are. Let our podiatry team at Martin Foot and Ankle help you with these painful skin problems instead. Contact our Lancaster, Lititz, York, or Hanover offices to make an appointment with our team of experts. Just call (717) 757-3537 or use our online form to reach us.

Photo Credit: How Soon Ngu via unsplash.com