A blister is a small pocket of fluid that forms on an area of the body. These bubbles can vary in size and can occur for different reasons. You may develop one after a skin burn, infection with fungus or bacteria, an insect bite, or trauma. Depending on its location, a blister can interfere with normal, everyday tasks. For example, if you have a blister on your feet, you may have difficulty walking, exercising, or standing for long periods of time.
Blisters commonly develop on the feet. Fortunately, several home treatments can relieve discomfort and lower the risk of repeated blisters.
If you have blisters on your feet, friction may be the culprit. Walking or standing for several hours a day puts pressure on the heels, soles, and toes. The longer you’re on your feet during the day, the greater your risk for feet blisters.
Of course, not everyone who walks or stands for long periods develops blisters. In many instances, these fluid-filled bubbles result from poorly fitted shoes. Shoes that fit too tightly or too loosely can rub against the skin. This causes friction, and as a result, fluid builds up underneath the upper layer of skin.
Excessive moisture or perspiration can also trigger these skin bubbles. This is common during warm seasons among athletes, particularly runners. Tiny blisters form when sweat clogs the pores in the feet.
Feet blisters can also develop after a sunburn. Other possible causes of blisters on the feet include:
- allergic reaction
- chemical exposure (cosmetics or detergents)
- fungal infections
- bacterial infection
- dyshidrotic eczema
A foot blister caused by friction typically resolves within a few days with home treatments.
Unfortunately, some blisters don’t respond to home treatments or worsen over time. See a doctor if a blister causes severe pain or prevents walking. You should also see a doctor if fever, nausea, or chills accompany a foot blister. This can be a sign of an infection.
Your doctor can drain the blister using a sterile needle. If they suspect an infection, they can examine a sample of the fluid to determine the cause.
You may be tempted to pick at or burst a blister. But you should leave a blister intact because an open blister can become infected. Covering your blister with an adhesive bandage can help protect your blister while it heals.
If you leave a blister alone, it may eventually harden and disappear. Until this happens, the bubble may be uncomfortable, depending on its size. While you shouldn’t burst a blister, safely draining the blister may provide relief. Here are steps to properly drain a blister at home:
- Wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.
- Using a cotton swab, disinfect a needle with rubbing alcohol.
- Clean the blister with antiseptic.
- Take the needle and make a small puncture in the blister.
- Allow fluid to completely drain from the blister.
- Apply antibacterial ointment or cream to the blister.
- Cover the blister with a bandage or gauze.
- Clean and reapply antibacterial ointment daily. Keep the blister covered until it heals.
Preventing blisters on your feet involves addressing the underlying cause. If you develop a blister due to friction, wearing properly fitted shoes is the first line of defense. If your feet rub along a specific area of your shoe, wearing an insole may provide extra padding and reduce friction.
If you’re an athlete, make sure you keep your feet dry. Apply foot powder to reduce sweating, or wear moisture-wicking socks designed for athletes. These socks dry faster and reduce moisture.
If a cosmetic product (powder, lotion, soap) or an allergen triggers blisters on your feet, avoiding the irritant reduces the likelihood of new blisters. For blisters caused by a medical condition, discuss possible treatments with your doctor. If you treat an underlying problem, you may lower your risk of blisters.