“Ordinary” blisters on the feet are fairly common, and can arise if there’s enough friction against the toes or the sole of your foot. In some cases, however, a simple blister can instead become a blood blister.
A blood blister is essentially a common blister, but the blood vessels beneath the blister have been damaged. This causes blood to leak within, often turning the blister a dark red or purplish color.
What do you do then?
To help you properly care for a blood blister, we’ll address several do’s and don’ts for treating this minor injury, as well as answer a few other common questions.
What Causes a Blood Blister?
Blood blisters on the foot can appear in any area under excess pressure and friction. They most often form in bony areas, but can develop in softer areas as well.
They often arise on feet that take a lot of abuse from walking, hiking, running, or dancing. For instance, if you go running for an extended period of time and the bony parts of your feet constantly rub against the inside of your shoes, you are more likely to develop a blood blister.
However, you don’t have to be especially active to get a blood blister. It may simply be that your feet are trapped in ill-fitting socks and shoes.
A blood blister can also form when the skin has been severely pinched. Such intense pressure can easily damage blood vessels without breaking the skin.
How Do You Treat a Blood Blister?
A blood blister can be painful, and you may feel tempted to lance it as soon as possible. But there are right and wrong ways to treat this problem, and managing it safely will always make for a faster and fuller recovery.
We will discuss some common do’s and don’ts for treatment here. That said, never hesitate to reach out to us if you have any concerns about a blood blister, one is too painful or troublesome to address on your own, or you simply prefer to put treatment in the hands of a professional. We’ll always be happy to help.
DO Elevate and Ice Your Blister
Elevating a blood blister will help reduce swelling and minimize its size. The sooner you can do this after a blister develops, the more effective it will be.
If your blood blister hurts (especially if it was a result of pinching), apply an ice pack or other source of cold wrapped in a towel or other barrier to help reduce pain. Never apply a source of cold directly to the skin without protection.
DON’T Lance Your Blood Blister
Just as with a common blister, a blood blister is still protecting vulnerable skin beneath. Breaking the skin increases your risk of infection or a scar.
Whenever possible, let a blood blister dry and flatten on its own. The only time you should consider lancing a blister is if it is excessively large and in a spot that is causing you significant difficulty – and even then, you must be sure to use the right tools and procedures to keep the wound clean (or even better, let us do it).
DO Bandage Your Blister
If you’re concerned your blister will pop on its own, bandage it properly to protect it from friction and pressure.
Adhesive bandages can work fine for small blisters, but larger and more protruding ones may require moleskin bandages. If the moleskin is not already pre-cut for blisters, cut a hole in it and place that part right over the blister. This will provide some padding around the blister to prevent it from hitting anything or rubbing against the inside of your shoe.
Once a moleskin bandage is applied, you can then place a standard adhesive bandage over it for additional protection.
DON’T Peel Away Skin Over the Blister
No matter what you do, the skin over a blister can still rupture or simply become loose as it heals. Do not remove any of this skin, even if the blister is already broken. It is still providing a protective layer over the skin below, and removing it can further expose the wound to infection. Keep it in place, if you can.
DO Clean a Broken Blister
Should your blood blister rupture, be sure to gently yet thoroughly clean the wound with antiseptics. Apply antibacterial cream or ointment, and then bandage the blister. Taking time to clean the wound can prevent complications.
DON’T Wear Shoes that Can Worsen Your Blood Blister
You might eye your favorite dress shoes or pumps in the morning as you get ready for the day, but that footwear may very well add to the problem. Opt instead for breathable shoes with wiggle room for your toes.
Flip-flops and other open-toed shoes can be helpful. If you can’t wear them, though, go for comfortable, fitted sneakers instead. Make sure your socks are comfortable and fit well, too.
DO Contact Us if You Need Help
Blood blisters can be painful, but seek our help if:
- The pain is particularly severe.
- You feel excessive warmth around the blister.
- You see redness or red streaks surrounding the blister.
It is possible that the blister may be infected in these cases, and it should be examined and treated right away. You should also seek our help immediately if you are living with diabetes, as any sort of injury to your feet can quickly go out of hand without proper attention.
But even if you don’t think you have an infection, please contact us if you notice anything “off” about your blister, it is too big, it is in an especially troublesome area … or any other reason, really.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Centers of Illinois, we can help you care for any blood blisters on your feet or toes. And if they are a recurring problem for you, we can get to the root of the problem and suggest changes that can keep you moving comfortably. Contact any of our offices below to schedule an appointment and get the help you need!