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Foot Blister Treatment: How To Treat Blisters Properly

6 blister treatment mistakes

Foot Blister Treatment: How To Treat Blisters Properly

Do you know how to get rid of blisters on feet in the most effective way? Unfortunately, foot blister treatment is a skill a lot of people get wrong. They risk infection, delayed healing and simply making their blister more painful than it needs to be.

In spite of this, it’s difficult to get some people to take blister treatment seriously. So at the end of this article, I’ll show you 6 blister treatment fails that show you why it’s important to treat a blister on your foot properly. 

Let’s begin. Let me show you how to get rid of blisters so you can wear your favourite shoes and continue your activity without them hurting. 

How to get foot blister treatment right

First, what kind of foot blister have you got? Tak a look at your blister roof. Is it intact, torn or deroofed? Have a look at these example blisters to help you decide, then watch the video below.

How to treat an intact blister: Your main aim is to protect the blister roof. As long as is intact, it can't get infected. Get rid of blisters on feet by looking at your blister roof.
Intact blister: Your main aim is to protect the blister roof. As long as is intact, it can’t get infected.
Torn blister: Your main aim is to prevent infection now the blister is open.
 Torn blister: Your main aim is to prevent infection now the blister is open.
How to treat a deroofed blister: get rid of blisters on feet. Your main aim is to get good skin healing and preventing infection.
Deroofed blister: Your main aim is to get good skin healing and preventing infection.
How To Treat Your Blister (According To The Integrity Of Your Blister Roof) https://youtu.be/tGqXa3wujiM

Your first priority: preventing infection

Your first foot blister treatment priority is to prevent infection. But it doesn’t stop there. Also monitor regularly for infection (every time you change your dressing). The signs of an infected blister include: pus; increasing pain, redness or heat around your blister; or red streaks extending from the blister. Here’s how to ensure your blister doesn’t get infected:

  • Firstly, clean your hands – Apply antibacterial gel or soap and water to kill the germs on your hands.
  • Secondly, clean your blister – If your blister is mucky with debris of any sort (dirt, drying blister fluid or blood) flush it with saline (salt water); or rinse it with soapy water or just water if that’s all you’ve got. This will physically remove some of the germs from your blister.
  • Thirdly, disinfect your blister – Use and antiseptic or antibiotic to kill the remaining germs on your blister.
  • Finally, cover your blister – This will keep any new germs out. It will provide protection to your blister, and provide a nice healing environment for your blister. However, don’t just use tape, because it may well rip your roof off. If in doubt, use an island dressing. 

Choose the right foot blister treatment dressing (there are 2 types)

There are two types of blister dressings you can use. If you really want to get rid of blisters on feet in the most effective way, it’s important to pick the right one for your blister.

1) Island dressings

Island dressings consist of an island of non-stick absorbent material in the middle, surrounded by an “sea” of adhesive. The island both cushions your blister a little, and absorbs blister fluids. The adhesive secures the dressing to your skin and locks the germs out on all sides. In fact, you can use an island dressing on ANY blister. If you had just one dressing to get rid of blisters on feet, make it island dressings.

get rid of blisters on feet - foot blister treatment with island dressings
Island dressing
[Video] Make your own island dressing

2) Hydrocolloid blister plasters

Hydrocolloid plasters are special blister dressings that should only be used on deroofed blisters. As the raw skin heals, it weeps. As it does so, the fluid combines with the hydrocolloid material to form a white gel underneath. This provides a perfect healing environment for your deroofed blister to heal fast. It also prevents the plaster from sticking to the wound and disrupting valuable healed tissue when it’s removed. Read this to learn more, or watch the video below.

foot blister treatment for deroofed blisters - how to get rid of blisters on feet by matching the right dressing to your blister.
Hydrocolloid blister plasters are for deroofed blisters only!
How to use hydrocolloid blister plasters

Now you’re ready to reduce pressure and friction levels

Once you’ve got the basics of blister treatment down, you’re ready to start fixing the pressure and high friction levels that will help your blister hurt less and heal faster. Quite simply, the articles I link to below hold the most effective methods of how to get rid of blisters on feet. Here’s what you need to know:

In these articles, I explain the strategies you can use. However, if you want to know how to reduce pressure and friction levels from your particular blister, my best advice lies in the articles on specific blister anatomic location. Simply go to the search function and type in your blister location (eg: pinky toe, arch or ball of foot). In these, I go into great detail on how to implement the important strategies that will have the biggest impact.

The 6 Most Common Mistakes Treating Blisters

Don't make these foot blister treatment mistakes - how to get rid of blisters on feet
The 6 most common mistakes treating blisters

Fail 1) Not treating the blister at all and just putting your shoes back on

We know that the majority of blisters will spontaneously pop if you simply put your shoes back on and ignore it, opening it up to infection. Here’s an example of the risks of non-treatment. Without putting too fine a point on it, it’s limb-threatening. Just ask Kate Miller-Heidke – glad you’re back on both feet Kate!Kate Miller-Heidke@kmillerheidke

DON’T PANIC! This was a few weeks ago. I came back from Europe with a very serious infection which can end in amputation or even death. All from a blister. Anyone who has worn them knows high heels can can kill – but I never took it literally. #eurovision #thread

View image on Twitter

196Twitter Ads info and privacy22 people are talking about thisKate Miller-Heidke@kmillerheidke · Replying to @kmillerheidke

I’ve been reading ‘Radical Acceptance’ by Tara Brach and she makes a very compelling case for being forced to press pause. And sometimes the only thing that will make you do it is a minor disaster. In heels.Kate Miller-Heidke@kmillerheidke

PS For anyone interested, I was diagnosed with cellulitis resulting from an infected blister. It’s the exact same disease Hilary Swank got while training for Million-Dollar baby so it’s definitely the most glamorous foot infection going around.#eurovision

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92Twitter Ads info and privacy16 people are talking about thisBlister treatment fail 1: Ignoring it

Fail 2) Not applying an antiseptic

Blisters exist in the outer layer of skin. But their bottom layer is ever-so-close to the blood vessel layer. With continued insult to your blister as you continue to stand, walk or run, or simply allow your shoes to press on it, you’re risking the skin eroding a little deeper and allowing infection to occur. Dab a bit of antiseptic or antibiotic cream on it to take infection out of the equation – especially if you’re treating a blood blister.

Infected blister with pus - don't forget foot blister treatment involves the use of antiseptics
Blister treatment fail 2: Apply an antiseptic / antibiotic to prevent infection. The blister fluid in this blister is actually pus. Pus indicates infection and it’s yellow and thicker than normal blister fluid which is thin and colourless.

Fail 3) Putting tape straight over the blister

The worst foot blister treatment thing you can do it put tape over your blister because the weakened and damaged blister roof may be ripped off as you remove it. There are other downsides to putting tape directly on a blister too.

intact foot blister treatment fail - don't tape your blister
Blister treatment fail 3: Don’t stick tape straight onto your blister. You’ll rip the roof off.

Fail 4) Putting a hydrocolloid blister plaster on an intact or torn blister roof

This is a big mistake because these plasters are adhesive. Just like tape, as you go to remove it, you’ll probably tear your blister roof off and make the whole situation worse. What happened in this case (below) is the hydrocolloid stuck to this runner’s intact blister roof AND his sock. So when he pulled his sock off, off came his blister roof too – what a mess!

Blister treatment fail 4: Hydrocolloids should only be used on deroofed raw blisters. This hydrocolloid went on an intact blister and ripped the roof back as it was removed.

Fail 5) “Letting the air get to it” so it scabs over

One of the least helpful things you can do to get rid of a blister on your foot is specific to deroofed blisters. A lot of people think the best thing to do is leave it open to “let the air get to it”. Drying your blister out doesn’t help it heal faster. In fact, it heals slower. All that happens is you’re letting a scab form. Moreover, a scab isn’t skin – it’s dry weepy goo from your wound. It’s brittle and inelastic. In other words, it’s an irritant to healing. That’s because it’s all too easy to break or dislodge a scab, only to be back at square one with your raw weepy blister base, which has been sitting underneath the scab all that time, trying unsuccessfully to heal.

Foot blister treatment for deroofed blisters is all about keeping it moist – not dry. Raw blisters heal best with a moist environment. That’s what your island dressing or hydrocolloid will provide. It might look gross when you take the dressing off and it might smell bad. But trust me, it helps strong, stretchy, resilient and healthy skin grow back over your blister.

Scabbed blister - how get rid of blisters on feet and prevent scabs
Blister treatment fail 5: Letting the air get to it so a scab forms. Part of this scab has dislodged revealing the raw weepy blister base again.

Fail 6) Neglecting pressure and friction management

If your blister was on your leg or your hand, you wouldn’t have to worry about pressure or friction so much. You’d easily and instinctively avoid it (like not holding things with your blistered finger). But we’re talking about foot blister treatment! Getting rid of blisters on feet is a little more complicated – we have to walk on our feet and our shoes are constantly pressing on them and pressing toes together. 

Click these links to learn more about how to take pressure off your blister and how to reduce friction levels. This is what will make your blister feel much less painful and allow it to heal faster. Because it will stop the skin stretching too much while it’s trying to heal.

Watch the “How To Treat A Foot Blister” video

What’s next?

Download the Blister Treatment Blueprint PDF

Rebecca Rushton

Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leader, author and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.

33 Comments
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    11 August 2013 at 10:05 am

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    […] Foot Blister Treatment […]

  • Jasmine Bate
    26 October 2015 at 5:32 am

    I have blisters onthe bottom of my feet near ly little toe and it wont cool down its swollen and i cant stand any additional advice

  • Rebecca Rushton
    26 October 2015 at 9:08 am

    Your blisters could be infected, Jasmine. I suggest you see your doctor to get specific advice on what to do next.

  • Mel
    1 November 2015 at 8:47 am

    I’m on my feet walking about at work for at least 10 hours, I have 4 blisters on 1 foot, 2 on the ball of my foot and 1 each on my big and little toes, what is the best way to help these and prevent more?

  • Rebecca Rushton
    1 November 2015 at 10:08 am
  • Mike
    13 November 2015 at 8:44 am

    So I had some minor blisters and popped mosquito bites on ankles and feet this summer and I found that putting Desitin (baby butt cream, the white titanium dioxide stuff) greatly eliminated all pain and discomfort associated with them. Is that sanitary and safe? I assumed it was since they use it on baby butts. I put a light bandage over it to stop the desitin sticking to sicks etc and getting lint in the wound, and it was pretty much pain free.

  • Rebecca Rushton
    14 November 2015 at 2:10 am

    I’m not sure about titanium dioxide being in Desitin – the tube of Desitin I’ve got has "40% zinc oxide in a soothing base of cod liver oil". As far as I’m aware, Desitin is intended for irritated yet intact skin, not so much on open or raw skin. Specifically, it works by (and I quote here):1) Forming a thick protective layer on the skin2) Blocking out wetness and irritants3) Protecting and soothing irritated skin, allowing it to heal naturally.I’m glad it helped Mike. Good call to put a dressing over it to keep it clean and prevent infection.

  • John Smith
    8 December 2015 at 4:12 am

    so, i have a blister along the inside of my left heel that has a bubble toward the back of my footmy issue is that i can’t afford to be off my feet for more than a 2 to 3 days at a time, as i work 12 hour shifts in a factorythe roof hasn’t torn, and it hasn’t really gotten better or worse, just changed shape slightly, slowly moving toward the bubbleis there anything i can do on my off time to make it go down faster, or am i simply stuck with a perma blister?

  • Rebecca Rushton
    8 December 2015 at 11:34 am

    Sorry to hear about your blister John. Ideally, you’d see your podiatrist so they can help you figure out why it’s there. To get it to heal, you need to address its cause. If you’d like to try and figure this out for yourself, here are a few things that I think might help:1) https://blisterprevention.com.au/what-causes-blisters/2) https://blisterprevention.com.au/fast-blister-healing3) https://blisterprevention.com.au/blister-blog/edge-blisters-the-2-patch-techniqueAll the best.Rebecca

  • James Lehman
    13 December 2015 at 4:40 am

    After many years of hiking , as a Scout leader and "private citizen", I can agree with much presented here. The prevention boils down to two things: Proper fitted shoes/boots and proper socks. Boots should allow some movement, and not bind your toes (wriggle?) or their outer edges. Tight across the instep, holding the heel in place. Women especially need to allow bigger shoes ("but my feet aren’t that big!") . I have never seen cotton socks "prevent" blisters. They are almost always the sock involved. They rub and chafe, and hold moisture in, thus adding to the heat in the shoe. 100% wool socks are almost always NOT involved. I think it has to do with the cushiony quality and the natural lubrication of the lanolin in the wool and the fact that wool wicks moisture away better than cotton, which tends to hold it. Even the synthetic blends try to copy wool’s qualities. Last year, after 700 km on the Camino de Santiago, 15-20km or more a day, 100% wool socks, I had no blisters. My buddy, had silk liners, and wool blend socks. He had no blisters up to the final three days, and developed a blister on his big toe. He decided it was the new insoles he had installed the previous week, that changed the geometry of his toe space. Along the Camino, we saw a interesting technique in treating big blisters: a podiatrist at a Albergue (hostel) used a sterilized needle to sew sterile thread THRU the blister, to allow the blister to drain and continue to drain until it healed over into a callous! We met many folks who said the technique worked if cared for properly, with a "donut" bandage to protect it. This allowed the victim to continue hiking. After the callous formed, the thread could be carefully pulled out. Antiseptic cream over all, naturally. And bigger boot!

  • Lola Noel
    3 January 2016 at 9:24 am

    I’m at my wits end. I had an ankle fracture of my calcanus almost 5 years ago. As a result I had fracture blisters. They healed but with friction I’ve been battling blisters on whole side of ankle. Can’t wear socks have to wear backless shoes. I’ve tried everything. I’ve been to Dermatoligist 3 times he just says its contact dermatitis. I’d give anything if someone would tell me how I can heal them. I’ve used steroid creams, antibiotic cream, silver dine cream, over the counter creams, home remedies etc. Please any help appreciated.

  • Rebecca Rushton
    3 January 2016 at 11:12 am

    Hi Lola. I’m sorry to hear of your predicament. The blisters from contact dermatitis have a different cause to friction blisters. A dermatologist is a skin specialist and you’ll get the best diagnosis and treatment advice from him/her. So please follow all advice you are given by your dermatologist.

    Having said that, blisters or weakened skin of any cause will not like high friction rubbing. Consider an ENGO Patch on the part of your shoe corresponding to your irritated skin – that should help a little. Or cover the blisters with an inert dressing, to protect the underlying skin. But if it’s contact dermatitis, the problem is intiated by contact with something your skin is sensitive to. That needs to be addressed first and foremost. I’m sure you’ve been given advice in this regard. All the best.

  • Travis
    4 January 2016 at 8:04 am

    Rebecca-

    Thank you for the information. I have a pretty painful blister on the ball of my left foot. I got it playing basketball. Unfortunately the roof is partially torn and bent inwards into the blister. So half is exposed and the other half has the roof that pushes into the blister when I out weight on it. I’ve been washing and putting neosporin on it. I’ve also kept it bandages. My question is what I should do about the roof? It’s kinda stuck and awkward.

  • Rebecca Rushton
    5 January 2016 at 8:54 am

    Hi Travis. If the torn part of the blister roof is annoying the raw healing base, it would be worth cutting that off. This is best done with sterile equipment at your doctor or podiatrist. But if you are going to do it yourself, make sure your gear is not just clean, but at least disinfected (if not sterile). And then take precautions to prevent infection afterwards, until it has healed. If in doubt, see your medical practitioner. All the best!

  • Elif
    16 April 2016 at 4:00 am

    Hello! Thankyou for all your helpful content.I have to say though, I was taken aback by the graphic nature of some of the images. Could you consider writing a warning or changing the images?Once again, thankyou.

  • Rebecca Rushton
    17 April 2016 at 3:56 am

    Sorry to have offended, Elif.

  • Lucy
    23 April 2016 at 8:09 am

    I have a question, i have a finger tip sized blister. But my concern is the bloster has fluid and a few sediment type things floating in it. That are white and hard. What is that? Should i go ahead and pop it? If i let it heal thats still going to be there right? When i had my shoes on i though it was a piece of pepple of something in my shoe but no its actually something hard inside my blister

  • Rebecca Rushton
    24 April 2016 at 11:06 am

    Sounds a bit weird Lucy – see a podiatrist or doctor and get it checked out.

  • mY BLISTER
    29 May 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I have a blister on the back of my foot where there are the little crinkles. I just got it and it hurts. Please give me help.

  • Chantal
    22 June 2016 at 9:16 am

    WOW !Your website is awsome !Thank you for the clear and concise information. I could not find it in a regular pharmacy so I had to order it from a medical supply store.
    Great website !Thanks again,ChantalCanada

  • Rick
    3 January 2017 at 1:21 am

    My wife had angioplasty with a stent put in her leg. The next day a blister formed on the top of her foot the size of a quarter. Within two days she went back to doctor for a follow-up and he said the blister will probably break tonight. Well, it’s been 5 days, the blister is now about 3 inches in diameter. Circulation is better in leg, however, much discomfort in foot and concern about blister.

  • Rebecca Rushton
    3 January 2017 at 2:07 am

    I’m sorry I can’t help Rick. Your wife needs the ongoing assessment and care of her doctor.

  • Stephanie
    11 January 2017 at 4:07 am

    Boiling water soaked through my shoe and now, 5 hours later, my second toe has a very large blister that is firm and appears to be filled with a translucent yellow liquid and is currently unruptured. Do you think I should drain it?

  • Rebecca Rushton
    12 January 2017 at 1:29 am

    A blister caused by a burn is a bit deeper than a friction blister. That would be more reason to leave it intact Stephanie rather than pop it.

  • Sean
    12 January 2017 at 11:29 am

    Great resource – thanks!
    On average, how long do you find it takes for large deroofed heel blisters to heal with hydrocolloid dressings? Not completely, just enough to wear ski boots without severe pain…

  • Rebecca Rushton
    13 January 2017 at 5:35 am

    You can be up and about doing whatever you like with a blister straight away, without it being painful Sean – if you do the right things to it. Selecting the right dressing is just one of five steps you have to take. Details here: https://blisterprevention.leadpages.co/blister-treatment-blueprint/

  • nicola
    15 August 2017 at 11:10 am

    my son has returned from a camping trip with deep blisters on balls of feet with no roof, but also deep cracks within the blister areas – we have dressed and applied antiseptic, but clearly this is going to take a while to heal and I wondered why the deep cracks and best way to deal with them

  • Audrey
    2 November 2017 at 5:41 am

    I have a mallet toe, have never had any trouble but Today I wore some cheap runners and got a huge blister on the under side of my toe, i soaked it i Epsom salts and the applied anti biotic cream. Now what. Do I put a bandaid on it or leave it open?

  • Rebecca Rushton
    3 November 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Step 3 Audrey – your next step depends on the integrity of the blister roof.

  • Grace
    14 February 2018 at 10:07 am

    I have a large blister on the front sole of my foot near my middle and second toe, I got it from walking in bad shoes for a while and it was rubbing, I didn’t get any notice though in order to prevent it. The skin has completely come off and I have been putting sports tape ontop when I go to school so that the red bare skin doesn’t rub.. any other suggestions? Getting things from the chemist isn’t really an option at the moment, so I kind of need some home remedies or something like that. 🙂

  • Maja
    13 April 2018 at 3:04 am

    Thank you for this article!I have really weird feet and have never had a pair of shoes that did not give me blisters, even when spending a lot of money on individual fitted shoes. I do not leave the house without Compeed, when I have to wear shoes (in winter, or for work meetings). Recently I had a new pair of shoes, that were so pad that I rubbed a hole into the Compeed dressing. Is it okay to secure the compeed with sports tape (duct tape?!) or something similar?
    Greetings from Wellington,Maja

  • Rebecca Rushton
    13 April 2018 at 3:54 am

    Yes you can Maja.

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