Feet@TheClinic, High Street Chambers, 25 High Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 2PZ

Tourist woman with sore feet and blisters checks her aching feet.

The Causes and Treatments of Blisters on Feet

Today everyone is more self-aware than ever before. We are more enlightened as to our personal wellbeing. The twenty-first century has become fashionable for health and fitness. Magazines, television and now, ever more, social media bombard us with how to keep every part of bodies fit and healthy. Unbelievably perfect looking people are constantly giving advice, making us believe that we too can look perfect.

Millions of words are written telling us how to keep our skin looking fit and healthy, our digestive system and our muscle tone are all pontificated on and advised upon. There is even a plethora of advice to be gleamed on how to keep your eyes and hair healthy. All at a price of course.

We are instructed on all the negative tell-tale signs to look out for. From aches and pains, blotches and spots, discoloration and dryness. Very often we discover non-problems. Everything can be diagnosed and treatments or therapies recommended. The result? Many people invest in cures and therapies they really don’t need. Of course all of this comes about through well marketed, probably expensive, therapeutic products.

It must be said that much of this is done through exploiting personal vanity. Vanity in our modern world is at levels never seen before, and vanity, as one of the human beings most vulnerable foibles, is now big business. A business to be exploited.

Maximizing profits through exploiting human weaknesses maybe well intentioned, but fundamental fitness and wellbeing gets neglected. Day to day ailments and frailties that can beset everyone are rarely given a second thought. For the large profit driven conglomerates, if it’s not about fashionable beauty, then there is no market. Sadly, cynical, but true.

You may keep your body trim, your complexion clear, eyes sparkling and your hair silky, but how much attention do you pay to your feet. The feet are the most essential and most neglected part of the human body. For the most part, people don’t see them, so why care?

Well, your feet are the most punished of all your appendatures, so perhaps we should pay them more heed. There is a multitude of problems people have with their feet during their lifetime. Probably the most common, and potentially debilitating, are blisters. Virtually everyone, at some point in their lives will succumb to the blight of blisters.

What Are Blisters?

Businesswoman sitting at the trainstation checking her feet that have been in high heels all day

A blister is medically known as bulla, bullae being the plural and pronounced ‘Bully’. A bulla is a fluid filled sac that forms from the epidermis and lays under a thin layer of the outer skin. They have the appearance of a bubble which can be clear, red or cream in colour. This is a reflection of the fluid within it. This fluid can be serum, plasma, blood or pus, this will depend on what has caused the bulla. Its primary function is to protect the skin below it and to allow the healing of the skin tissues.

What Are the Causes of Foot Blisters?

Bullae can be caused by any number of issues, from minor burns or injuries to disease. However, by far the most common cause of foot bullae is friction. Think of your feet, they undertake the most repetitive of all bodily functions, walking, second only to blinking. The pressures exerted on the feet and the associated friction is immense. The skin is the bodies outer layer of protection; thus it is the first to succumb to unwarranted punishment.

It is almost certain that friction caused bullae are simply down to inappropriate or ill-fitting footwear. It must be said that vanity plays its part here. Fashion inspired footwear is very often designed with the health and well-being of the foot far down the list of priorities, Hence, women are far more likely to suffer from bullae than men. A recent American survey suggested that women may have greater sufferance to a ratio of as much as 2:1.

With poorly designed or ill-fitting shoes, even just walking a short distance can create incredible levels of friction on the skin resulting in a bulla in a very short time. The heels, balls and toes are the most vulnerable areas, but any part of the foot can succumb to repetitive friction, which will result in bullae. Wearing shoes without socks will exasperate the friction effect on the foot, increasing the likelihood bullae.

With well-fitting, appropriate footwear, feet are not immune from friction induced bullae. The feet are always vulnerable. Moisture is another major contributory factor. Shoes and socks retain moisture against the skin which exasperates the effects of friction, in turn, increasing the probability of bullae sufferance.

Professional athletes take great care of their bodies, those that regularly partake in running or jogging as part of their fitness regime are particularly susceptible to the moisture-friction cause of Bullae. Professional runners often suffer with bullae, even when using appropriate and well-designed footwear. So, no matter who you are, or what you do, it is very likely that at some point in your life you will fall victim to foot bullae.

How to Treat the Blight of Bullae?

The first thing not to do is to burst the bulla. This should only ever be done by a trained professional using properly sterilized equipment. There are many old folklore remedies that claim to cure foot bullae. Just a quick search will find you reading about old teabags, goats milk and even urine as suggested remedies. It must be pointed out that none of these claimed remedies have any scientific basis, and are best avoided.

There is of course a multitude of products available on the high street that will claim to relieve the pain of, or indeed cure, bullae. So often people part with hard earned money for products that rarely live up to their claims. That said, there is some scientific evidence that aloe vera, particularly in its pure form, can relieve some of the discomfort experienced by bulla sufferers. However, living in the UK and aloe vera not being a native plant, finding natural, unadulterated aloe vera is very unlikely.

Bullae take time to dissipate and heal. Obviously they should be kept clean, they should be padded with a sterile dressing to relive pressure and ensure they are free of any friction from footwear. The danger is that the bulla doesn’t heal properly and becomes infected, obviously creating more complicated problems for the sufferer. The worst option is to ignore the problem and do nothing. Suffering in silence will certainly be regretted.

By far the best course of action is to have your bullae assessed by a professional, particularly if they are not healing or there seems to be a regular reoccurrence of them. Only a trained practitioner can adjudge the appropriate treatment for foot bullae. It may be that draining a bulla is initially the best option. If so, a practitioner will be able to undertake the procedure and properly dress the area in a sterile manner and environment.

Your professional practitioner will also be able to draw up a comprehensive treatment plan for you to follow. This is very important following your first visit to your local practitioner. It will ensure that there is continuity of appropriate treatment throughout the healing process, whilst also minimizing the risk of infection and reoccurrence.

Avoid the Pain and Sufferance

female feet and hands at spa salon on pedicure and manicure procedure

Prevention is better than cure. Very often bullae can be avoided by assessing your footwear choices. When selecting new shoes, ensure they fit well, by length and width, and are comfortable. Shoes with a soft padded insole will be much kinder to your feet. Try to avoid wearing new shoes for an extended length of time, allow your feet to break in your new shoes slowly.

Many ladies, and some men, will find it hard to resist the latest fashion in footwear. Fashion shoes with high heels are potential bullae creators. For those that cannot resist the temptation of being fashionably foot attired, arrange your time so that your riskier footwear is worn for only short periods. With more normal flat shoes it can be advantageous to change your footwear during the day. Fresh dry footwear can help in avoiding bullae whilst also helping to rejuvenate your feet.

The one thing you can be sure of is that each and every person will suffer will bullae at some point in their lives, some more than others. The only certain way to ensure you get the best advice and treatment is by visiting your local foot health clinic. The UK is blessed with many highly trained professionals in private clinics up and down the country. These local clinics are ideally placed to assess each and every case on an individual basis.

Feet@theclinic, Loughborough, is a perfect example of a local clinic with highly trained professionals well versed in assessing foot bullae. Their skills and knowledge allows them to accurately diagnose the severity of each case and administer the appropriate treatment. With this, they will also offer appropriate, ongoing care where needed and give advice for home based, self-care treatment.



Rebekah Henning is a Foot Health Professional (FHP) who has gone through specialized training at The SMAE Institute based in Maidenhead. She is fully trained and qualified in both the theoretical and practical aspects of foot health and care to enable her to assess the condition of your feet and treat as appropriate, referring you if necessary. She provides routine foot care and maintenance for your feet using the latest procedures and techniques to ensure that you receive the best possible treatment. Her knowledge and skills are up to date by undertaking continual professional development and she is also a Member of the British Association of Foot Health Professionals (MAFHP) and a Member of the College of Foot Health Professionals (MCFHP).

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