What Causes a Friction Blister?
As the name suggests, friction blisters are caused by repeated rubbing and chafing of the skin. Blisters can also be hemorrhagic or blood filled as a result from ruptured blood vessels or tissue damage. Continuous rubbing of the sole and ankle against the shoe or any rough surface leads to inflammation and irritation. The tissues in these areas accumulate fluid to protect the region from further damage.
During the initial irritation, the blister starts off as a red rash. As fluid accumulates, it gains the appearance of a blister. Continued pressure on the blister affects the skin and is quite painful.
This continued pressure at the inflammation site leads to minute tears along the skin. To cover the tear, the body deploys fluid and protects the vulnerable region. In this way, friction blisters become tender to the touch.
How to Avoid Friction Blisters
Friction leads to friction blisters. Thus, to avoid blisters, avoid friction in the areas where they commonly form. It is impossible to completely avoid friction, because whether you’re at rest or work, there is some form of chafing actively at play.
However, wearing shoes that fit right and have enough room to wiggle the toes but are still snug is a small step to start. All new shoes take time to break in, you should start off with 1 hour initially and gradually increase wearing time by 1hr per day until reaching 8hrs. Until then, it’s best to wear padded socks or an adhesive bandage to avoid chafing.
It is not uncommon for the cure to become the ailment – thick socks tend to make the feet sweaty, which can lead to a blister. Humidity in the shoes exacerbates the tendency to develop blisters, which is why it’s common for athletes and military personnel to develop blisters. However, the benefits of wearing the right pair of socks outweigh the sweaty feet conundrum. Socks with a natural (cotton or wool ) and polyester blend will help wick moisture.
There is a right way and a wrong way to wear socks. Socks must be smoothed out to remove wrinkles, especially along the heel and toe region, which are common spots for blisters. Taking an extra minute to smooth out your socks could make all the difference.
How to Treat Friction Blisters
Most friction blisters are harmless and go away on their own. These generally don’t require medical attention. Blisters rupture naturally, so it is important to resist the urge to pop them. The blister may also be infected if the fluid drainage is yellow in color or if there is an area of warmth and redness surrounding. In these cases, medical attention is needed.
People can care for a friction blister by ensuring that the region is clean and avoiding closed shoes until the time the blister heals.
Patient’s with Diabetes should never self treat any blisters no matter how harmless they may seem. Blisters that develop on the outermost layer of the skin can also be in response to other causes such as an infection or injury.