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Your feet go through a lot of wear and tear daily as they carry your entire body weight and rub against your footwear. This continuous strain and friction lead to the buildup of fluid between different layers of underlying tissue.
The fluid collects in thin-walled sacs that bulge out as blisters or vesicles on the surface. These painful lesions can appear anywhere on your foot and can make standing and walking quite difficult.
Foot blisters can vary in size depending on their root cause and location, but they are usually less than 1 mm in diameter, while some may be bigger. They can be extremely painful and, in certain cases, indicate a more serious condition.
Causes of Foot Blisters
Foot blisters are often a result of the following:
1. Poorly-fitted footwear
Sandals, boots, or shoes that are too loose and rub against your skin to cause blisters. Wearing shoes that are too tight or have a narrow toe box can also irritate your foot skin.
2. Vigorous activity
Athletics, running, hiking, and other such activities that involve vigorous use of feet can lead to the formation of foot blisters.
Excessive or extended exposure to cold can cause blisters by freezing the tissues beneath your skin’s surface. Even if the temperature is above zero, dampness or exposure to strong chilly wind will cause your skin to freeze. (1)
4. Chickenpox (varicella)
Chickenpox is a pretty common and highly contagious skin infection caused by a type of herpes virus. It leads to the formation of red vesicles all over the body that ultimately scab over and shed. Certain viral rashes can present as vesicles on the palms and soles, especially in children. (2)
Scabies is caused by a parasitic mite that burrows into the skin, leaving curving lines of blisters in their path. The hands, feet, wrists, and underarms are common targets.
Eczema or dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disorder characterized by the appearance of dry, scaly, and itchy patches and vesicles all over the body, especially on the palms and soles.
Scratching will only intensify the itch, redness, and swelling. Plus, the friction caused by rubbing your nails against your already sensitive skin can lead to blisters.
7. Bullosis diabeticorum (BD)
This condition affects people with long-term diabetes, especially those suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
It is marked by the formation of non-inflammatory sores that resemble burn blisters that tend to recur. BD blisters generally appear on the upper side of the hands, feet, and sometimes legs or forearms. (3)
8. Epidermolysis bullosa (EB)
EB is a genetic skin disorder characterized clinically by blister formation from mechanical trauma.
Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection that can produce superficial vesicles, blisters, or sores anywhere on the body.
Treatment for Foot Blisters
Treatment options for foot blisters include the following:
- Antibiotic creams must be applied as soon as the blister pops to prevent wound infection. Do not remove the loose skin covering the burst blister as it serves as a natural barrier against germs.
- Corticosteroids are specifically used to treat vesicles and rash due to dermatitis. They help curb the underlying skin inflammation to reduce the swelling, itching, and redness associated with these lesions.
Antiviral drugs might be prescribed for people with chickenpox who are at risk for complications. This medication is most effective if taken within 48–72 hours of disease onset.
When to See a Doctor
See your doctor if the foot blister:
- Is painful, red, and warm to touch
- Keeps recurring
- Oozes yellow or green pus that may give off a foul smell
Foot blisters or vesicles are particularly discomforting due to their tricky location, as your entire body weight falls on your feet. Plus, your feet are the lowest parts of the body, so it is difficult to look after them and protect them from undue injuries.
To promote quick healing of foot blisters, it is important to minimize your movement, which can be a major liability. But the sooner you start treatment, the speedier will be the recovery. Timely treatment will also make your blister less painful and will reduce the risk of infection.