Foot Blisters

Foot blisters are a common injury among athletes, runners and walkers, especially those partaking in marathons. They mostly form due to the adverse effects of friction on the foot, which has usually been worsened by faulty footwear, socks, or dampness in the shoes.

Pre-empting Blisters

Be aware of the risk factors for developing blisters. These are generally the combination of surface friction with heat, moisture or dirt. You must therefore ensure that your footwear is suitable for your activities and that the shoes do not rub against your feet due to smallness or tightness. With brand new shoes, use them casually before wearing them for strenuous training. When it comes to socks, layering can combat friction and athletic socks can help to dispel wetness. Cotton socks are known to be coarser than normal and should be discarded. You should also never use socks with holes.

Before exercise, you can heighten the dryness of your feet by using talcum powder or equivalents. This will assist in reducing friction, as can using a suitable lubricant. If you know where you are most vulnerable to blisters, you can decrease their likelihood by wrapping tape or bandages over these areas. It may also be beneficial to try walking barefoot in harmless and appropriate places, in order to harden and strengthen the skin.

If you feel a blister forming

Rest immediately if possible, removing the relevant footwear both to inspect the area and to reduce heat and moisture. The skin around the area will be reddening if a blister is imminent. Before continuing any activity wrap the area with tape or bandages, and if feasible take any of the other aforementioned steps to tackle excessive friction.


For a fully formed blister, dress around the area with soap and water to remove any dirt and help prevent infection. It is your choice whether to drain the fluid or leave the injury to heal, but if it does not cause pain to walk on then it is generally best to leave it to repair. If draining the fluid you should always be cautious and use a sterilised tool if it is necessary to make a minor hole. When removing the fluid be careful not to damage the skin, as this assists protecting the foot from infection. Gently wash the injury with a suitable wipe. Cover the blister using a special blister plaster which should stick and perform better than ordinary tape or plasters, and use additional cover if needed to reduce pain. However, you should allow air to the blister in order to help it heal.

When to see a Doctor

Most blisters require no professional medical attention, but if you have a smelly blister, if it is full of blood or extreme quantities of pus, it is likely to be infected and you should consult a doctor. Note also that you should not drain blood from a blister.

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