Friction blisters


A friction blister is a soft pocket of a raised skin filled with a clear fluid caused by irritation from continuous rubbing or pressure. Friction blisters generally occur on the feet, where tight or poor-fitting shoes can rub and irritate delicate toes and heels for long periods. This type of irritation causes minor damage to the skin and the tissue just underneath the skin, and then fluid accumulates just underneath the outermost layer of skin. If the irritation is sufficient to damage small blood vessels, the blister also may contain blood, and is then called a blood blister. A friction blister is a small pocket of puffy, raised skin containing clear fluid. It is usually painful when touched. A blister can appear anywhere. Blisters can be diagnosed by looking at them. In short, if it looks like a blister and feels like a blister, and if it's in a place that could have been irritated by pressure or rubbing, it likely is a blister. Friction blisters typically drain on their own within days. A new layer of skin forms beneath the blister, and eventually the blistered skin peels away.

Prevention

If pressure or friction continues in the same area, the blister may last two weeks or longer. Continued friction may rub away the delicate top skin layer, and the blister may break open, ooze fluid and run the risk of becoming infected or developing into a deeper wound. If the irritation is mild, the blister may heal despite continued irritation, and eventually a callus will form. The best way to prevent friction blisters is to wear shoes that fit your feet well, so that the shoe is not tight anywhere and does not slide up and down your heel when you walk. Wear socks with shoes to protect your feet and prevent irritation, and try to keep your feet dry.

Treatment

Because blisters typically get better on their own in just a few days, generally no special treatment is required other than to keep the blisters clean and dry. Because the skin provides a natural protection against infection, a blister should be left intact if possible. Do not try to drain the blister or pierce or cut away the overlying skin. One should try to avoid further irritation, or protect the blister with a sterile bandage if continued irritation is unavoidable. If the blister breaks on its own, wash the area with soap and water, gently pat dry, use an antibacterial ointment and cover it with a bandage.

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