Tiny bubbles…in Hawaii…make you feel grumpy…make you want to sigh. Tiny bubbles can make you sore all over…okay, so those aren’t exactly how the words go to the famous Don Ho song, but when the bubbles you’re talking about are blisters, the words make a lot of sense! These fluid-filled bumps can definitely be annoying and cause enough soreness to sideline you from your favorite activity. There’s also the danger of the pesky problems becoming infected, leading to other complications. Understanding why blisters form and what you can do about them is the first step toward battling these not-so-festive bubbles.
Rubbing You the Wrong Way
Blisters can be caused by extreme temperatures, bug bites, or skin conditions, but most often they are the result of friction. When these bothersome bumps appear on your feet, it’s typically due to socks and shoes rubbing against your skin. Anything that intensifies this rubbing, including poorly fitting footwear, abnormalities such as bunions and hammertoes, a faster pace, or excessive perspiration, can exasperate the problem. In response to the friction, your body produces fluid that builds up beneath the skin in an attempt to protect it. However, this buildup causes pain and pressure. For relief, should you pop or not?
If it’s a tiny bubble, don’t pop it. Simply cover it with a bandage to protect it from continued friction. You can also try cutting a hole the size of the blister in some moleskin and placing that overtop before covering with gauze. It’s important to leave the skin intact since it acts as a protective barrier to outside bacteria.
Larger blisters will need to be drained. There is a way to do this, though, that again will leave that important outer layer of skin in place. First, wash and dry your hands and the affected area. Next, sterilize a needle by swiping it with rubbing alcohol. Then, poke a hole near the border of the bubble and gently press on it to drain the fluid from the hole. Now, apply anti-bacterial ointment and cover with a bandage. Periodically soaking your foot in Epsom salts will help to draw out any excess fluid, but remember to cover the blister again afterward to protect it from infection.
Banishing Those Bubbles
Prevent future blisters by keeping your feet moisturized—dry skin is more prone to friction. Also, opt for moisture–wicking socks with reinforced heels and toes. Be sure that your shoes fit properly, too. There should be a thumb’s width of space in front. Make sure there’s no slipping going on when you step either. For more tips on treating blisters, or avoiding them in the first place, give Carolina Podiatry Group a call. Make an appointment by dialing (803) 285-1411 in Lancaster, SC, or (803) 548-FEET in Fort Mill, SC. Brandon Percival, DPM, Julie Percival, DPM, and William Harris IV, DPM, are happy to help you get up and running again so you can stop singing the blues and start whistling Dixie!