Blister: All you need to know

Blister: All you need to know Blister: All you need to know Blister: All you need to know

Friction blisters: A very common, yet often very debilitating skin injury; everything you need to know and how we can help.

Whether you are a competitive long-distance runner, a casual hiker, military personnel, a nurse, a professional gardener, generally on your feet all day or just found yourself wearing ill-fitting shoes, you probably have already suffered the painful experience of a blister on your feet.

Here is what you need to know on these common skin injuries.

  • Friction blisters: This is the most common and basic form of blisters. They are typically caused by irritation from continuous rubbing or pressure. Friction blisters usually occur on the feet, for example if your footwear doesn’t fit quite right and irritates the delicate skin of toes and heels for prolonged periods of time. Likewise, if you are using tools such as a rake or a shovel with no gloves on, the handle that keeps rubbing against your hand might cause a blister.
  • Heat blisters: The timing of blister formation is helpful to categorize blisters. If the blister forms immediately then it is caused by a second degree burn, if blistering occurs only a couple of days after the incident then it is a first degree burn.
  • Cold blisters: Those are caused by frostbite and as for the heat blisters, they are a defense mechanism deployed to protect lower levels of skin from temperature-related damage.
  • Other type of blisters: Numerous medical conditions can cause other types of blisters. These conditions include but are not limited to: allergic reactions, chickenpox (small blisters), herpes (clusters of blisters), bullous impetigo, eczema, dyshidrosis (many small, clear blisters) etc.

What happens next?

At 24 hours, new skin layers, under the surface are in a steady formation process. After 2 days, a new layer of skin is already visible, and after 5 days, a new upper layer of skin is clearly seen.

During this healing process, the fluid present in the blister is reabsorbed by the underlying tissue and swelling subsides.

Painful blisters on the palm of the hands or soles of the feet are often caused by tissue shearing in deeper layers of the skin. These layers lie next to nerve endings, thereby producing more pain.

Painful blisters on the palm of the hands or soles of the feet are often caused by tissue shearing in deeper layers of the skin.

Are they easy to diagnose?

You can diagnose a blister by simply examining it. If you see a raised bubble that feels spongy and generally painful to the touch, and if it is in a place that could have been recently irritated by pressure or rubbing, it is most likely a blister.

How to treat foot blisters?

As described above, in most cases your blister will heal on its own in a matter of a few days. A new layer of skin will form beneath the blister and the top skin layer (roof) will peel away. You shouldn’t drain/pop a blister, because of the risk of infection and it disrupts the body’s optimal way to heal a wound. If you want to learn more about friction blister treatment, read here.

Don’t be careless

If you don’t take enough care and keep the pressure or friction in the same area, you can delay the healing up to several weeks. Continued friction may rub away the delicate roof, 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.

Do you have to contact a physician?

Although blisters can be a painful annoyance and make your life miserable, in most cases they won’t lead to medical issues. However, these are reasons why you should seek your healthcare provider’s help:

  • the blister looks infected, it is draining pus, or the area around the blister is red, swollen, warm, or very painful;
  • You have a fever;
  • You have several blisters, especially if you cannot figure out what is causing them;
  • You have health problems such as circulation problems or diabetes.

Applying preventive solutions such as tape, padding or moleskin to trouble spots (based on personal experience) can help prevent blisters from appearing. You can also use friction-management patches which are applied to the inside of shoes. These will remain in place longer, throughout many changes of socks or insoles.

On the hands: Depending of what is your favourite activity, you are more or less at risk of developing hand blisters. If you are using tools or carrying out manual work, wearing gloves should prevent the majority of blisters. The same goes if you are playing a sport where you are holding a bat, racket, club etc. For some other sports such as gymnastics, weightlifting or rowing, applying tape on the hand is an effective way to prevent blister occurrence. Additionally, the use of talcum powder in order to reduce friction could prove beneficiary in combination with gloves or as a stand-alone option. Keep in mind, however, that talcum powder also absorbs moisture and as such is not a good option for prolonged activities.

How COMPEED® products could help?

The range of COMPEED® Blister plasters offer a wide variety of expert solutions to help prevent blister development or speed up the healing process of a range of sizes and shapes of blisters. They contain an active hydrocolloid gel technology that, in addition to provide cushioning, will give you an instant pain relief and create a safe and protective environment for the blister to heal. In a recent clinical study, COMPEED® blister plasters were better at providing instant pain relief, extra cushioning than standard plasters and reduced healing time compared to regular plasters. They were also the leader in user satisfaction.

In addition to plasters, the COMPEED® blister line of product also includes an anti-blister stick that has been specifically developed to reduce friction on the sensitive spots and thus helps to prevent blister formation.



Friction blisters Pathophysiology, prevention and treatment. Knapik JJ1, Reynolds KL, Duplantis KL, Jones BH. Sports Med. 1995 Sep;20(3):136-47.