What are Foot Blisters and Their Treatments?

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. It is important to always consult a medical professional for any health issues.

It is common for most people to experience blisters. These are small pockets of fluids that form on an area of the body, commonly on people’s feet. Their size can vary, and they can occur for different reasons. Blisters may interfere with everyday tasks, particularly if they are on your feet, such as having difficulties when it comes to walking, standing for long periods, and exercising. Depending on where a blister is on your foot, it can be disabling and difficult to treat.

 Fortunately, blisters can be treated and prevented. If you often experience foot blisters and want to know how to treat them better and prevent having them in the future, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you more information about what foot blisters are and their treatments.

What are Blisters?

foot with a blister

Blisters pertain to a painful skin condition where fluid fills a space between layers of skin. The skin consists of three layers, which are the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous fat. A blister forms under the epidermis as a fluid-filled sac. Most of the time, it is filled with clear liquid or blood, depending on the injury that damages the skin.

Foot blisters may be painful or itchy. If they get infected, they will fill with milky-white pus. Blisters on the feet or hands are the most common, but they can also appear anywhere on the body. They rarely need medical attention unless they are severe, recurrent, caused by burns, or because of an underlying infection. [1]

Some of the common symptoms of a blister are a reddened and tender patch of skin and a raised lump filled with clear fluid or blood. Multiple blisters that develop spontaneously, particularly in older people, may indicate an auto-immune condition. These blisters may need to be referred to a specialist dermatologist. [2]

Causes of Foot Blisters

foot with a blister on the toe

What causes most blisters is friction against the skin. But anything that results in tissue or blood vessel damage to the outer skin may cause a blister. For foot blisters, below are some of the most common causes:

Friction and Pressure

Both friction and pressure cause a majority of blisters on the feet. When the skin of the feet is constantly brushed against a shoe, sock, or rough surface, inflammation and irritation usually occur, which result in redness, pain, and swelling. A red sore commonly develops on foot before the blister itself. If the sore is unceasingly irritated or if pressure is put on it, shaving of the skin will occur. [3]

When inflamed skin shears, it causes small tears. The body will then send fluids to fill the opening and protect the more delicate underlying tissue layers. Foot blisters that are caused by friction are usually painful and tender to the touch, which can also be disabling for a lot of people.


When the skin is burned, the body responds by creating a blister to protect the underlying tissue layers from being damaged. After first-degree burns, it may take a day or two for blisters to form, especially those that are caused by sunburn. However, with more severe types of burns, blisters may appear faster.

Since they are caused by a very painful condition, the indications of burn blisters are not noticed by most people or are difficult to distinguish from those of the burn. Blisters caused by burning usually heal by the time the burn itself has healed. [3]


When the skin is exposed to extreme cold, it may cause frostbite, freezing, and killing cells in the skin. When this happens, the body develops blisters to keep in the body. Blisters caused by frostbite usually appear immediately. Similar to burn blisters, most people find it difficult to separate the symptoms of frostbite blisters from the symptoms of frostbite itself. [3]

Contact Dermatitis

Skin inflammation or contact dermatitis can occur whenever the skin is exposed to an irritant. If exposure continues, contact dermatitis may progress to form a blister. There are also severe allergens and irritants that may result in enough inflammation and pressure to cause blisters. They either appear immediately or shortly after being exposed to the irritant or over time with gradual exposure. [3]

Some of the common causes of contact dermatitis blisters include insect bites, skin allergens, chemicals in washing detergents and skin cleansers, chemical cleaners, sulfates, nickel, cobalt, gasses, and other chemicals used in laboratory or clinical settings.

Medical Conditions

Any condition that makes the outer layer of the skin weak can make it more vulnerable to blisters. In addition to that, blisters can also be a sign of certain infectious diseases and disorders. Some of the common medical conditions and treatments that may intensify the risk of blisters on the feet include chicken pox, eczema, diabetic neuropathy, and being overweight, which puts increased pressure on the feet. [3]

Ruptured Blood Vessels

When small blood vessels in the epidermis of the skin break, they often leak blood into the tissue layers, which causes a blood blister. Blood blisters usually occur when the skin is pinched or crushed. [3]

Poorly Fitted Shoes

In many instances, blisters result from wearing poorly fitted shoes. When your shoes fit too tightly or too loosely, they can rub against the skin. This causes friction, which leads to fluid build-up underneath the upper layer of skin. [4]

Excessive Moisture

Perspiration or excessive moisture may also trigger foot blisters. This is very common during warm seasons, especially among athletes like runners. Small blisters may form when sweat clogs the pores in the feet. [4]

Treatments for Foot Blisters

man putting bandage on the heel of his foot

The most effective way to treat foot blisters in most cases is by leaving them alone. It’s because most blisters heal after a few days with basic care. It is also very important to leave both clear and bloody blisters intact. Even though they are painful, they are a natural defensive mechanism of the body. Blisters also help in reducing pressure while protecting underlying tissues.

When a blister develops on your foot, you need to stop putting pressure on it. When it has broken and drained, the area around it should be washed with soap and water gently. Then, it should be covered using a sterile, dry, and breathable dressing, like gauze or a loose bandage.

While foot blisters generally heal on their own within a few days, there are also a few things you can do at home to make them less painful and more comfortable. Below are some of them: [3]

  • Apply an ice pack to the affected area. You can wrap the ice in a thick towel or blanket and apply it to the blister gently without pressure.
  • Use a blister bandage to cover the affected area. You can easily purchase blister bandages over the counter.
  • Raise your foot with a chair or pillow to decrease blood flow to the area and limit inflammation.
  • Always keep the affected area as dry as possible to aid healing.
  • Remove and avoid using the footwear or socks that caused the blister.
  • Apply creams or ointments gently to the blister and surrounding skin. There are various ointments and creams available for blisters.
  • Clean the affected area using over-the-counter solutions to reduce inflammation and pain.

Foot blisters rarely need medical attention unless they are severe, recurrent, caused by burns, or due to an underlying infection. [2] If a burn or frostbite causes the blisters, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause. It is also important to see a doctor if your blisters show signs of infection, such as red streaks around them, a hot or painful area around them, and pus or yellowish discharge.

How to Prevent Foot Blisters

woman wearing high heels feeling pain

In order to prevent foot blisters, you need to address the underlying cause first. There are several options for preventing blisters, and most of them involve preparation and caution. Also, preventing foot blisters depends on the type that you have. Below are some of the ways to prevent a blister based on the type of foot blister you’ve developed:

Preventing Friction Blisters

These blisters develop due to repeated rubbing. To prevent friction blisters, you need to make sure that your shoes fit well and do not rub on your skin. If you have new shoes, make sure that you break them in before wearing them for long periods. Always wear properly fitting clothes and shoes to prevent chafing, which may lead to blisters on your body. [1]

Blood Blisters

This type of blister usually develops when something pinches a particular part of your skin. Blood blisters are commonly seen on the hands but may also occur on your foot. Therefore, you need to stay alert when using tools or objects that can pinch your skin. As much as possible, wear gloves and shoes when working with tools or when you are in tight situations. [1]

Heat Blisters

Heat blisters are caused by a burn or when the skin gets too hot while recovering from frostbite. In order to prevent them, it is important to apply sunscreen if you plan to be outdoors for a long time. Be careful when handling hot items or working around a fire. Also, when going out, whether it is cold or hot outside, always wear weather-appropriate clothes and shoes to avoid frostbite. [1]

For areas that are prone to blistering, such as your feet, it is a good idea to apply moleskin or foot tape and talcum powder before doing activities to reduce the chances of new wounds. There are also some bandages available in the market that have empty holes. These can help cushion delicate skin or freshly healed skin. You may also use sole inserts or socks that offer extra padding to absorb and reduce pressure on the feet. [3]


Most blisters heal naturally on their own after a few days. However, if a blister does not improve after a few days or if it appears infected, it is important to consult with your doctor immediately. A foot blister is not a very serious condition. In fact, they are pretty standard, but that doesn’t mean they are any less painful. For hikers, runners, and other people who are always on their feet, blisters can be a major pain.

Therefore, if a blister develops on your foot, the best thing to do is keep it protected and allow it to heal in its own time. Do not be tempted to pop or scratch the blister, as it may become infected. If it does not heal, gets worse, or changes color, it is very important to seek the advice of a doctor immediately. We hope this post helped you learn more about what foot blisters are and their treatments.

If you need more tips when it comes to treating foot blisters, check out our Guide to Selecting the Right Foot Care Solutions for You.

Most athletes experience foot blisters. Aside from that, they also usually suffer from foot pain or fatigue. For more tips and recommendations on how to solve this issue, you may want to read our Guide to Selecting Foot Massagers for Runners and Athletes.


[1] Cleveland Clinic, E. (2021, April 30). Blisters: Causes, treatment, prevention. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16787-blisters

[2] Better Health Channel. (2002, April 10). Blisters. Better Health Channel. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/blisters

[3] Huizen, J. (2017, October 31). Blisters on the feet: Causes, treatment, and prevention. Medical News Today. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319878

[4] Higuera, V. (2023, February 2). Blisters on feet: Causes and treatments. Healthline. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/blisters-on-feet