Popped blister on foot

Contents

How to prevent and treat blisters

While we often think of blisters on our feet, these painful skin irritations can occur anywhere on the body where body parts rub together or rub against clothing. To prevent chafing that can lead to blisters, dermatologists recommend following these tips.

While we often think of blisters on our feet, these painful skin irritations can occur anywhere on the body where body parts rub together or rub against clothing. Fortunately, blisters can be prevented by preventing chafing. To stop them before they appear, pay attention to your skin and take precautions if you know you’re going to do a lot of walking, running or other physical activity.

To prevent chafing that can lead to blisters, dermatologists recommend the following tips:

  1. Protect your feet. To prevent blisters on your feet, wear nylon or moisture-wicking socks. If wearing one pair of socks doesn’t help, try wearing two pairs to protect your skin. You should also make sure your shoes fit properly. Shoes shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.

  2. Wear the right clothing. During physical activity, wear moisture-wicking, loose-fitting clothes. Avoid clothes made of cotton, as cotton soaks up sweat and moisture, which can lead to friction and chafing.

  3. Consider soft bandages. For problem areas, such as the feet or thighs, consider using adhesive moleskin or other soft bandages. Make sure the bandages are applied securely.

  4. Apply powder or petroleum jelly to problem areas. This helps reduce friction when your skin rubs together or rubs against clothing.

  5. Stop your activity immediately if you experience pain or discomfort, or if your skin turns red. Otherwise, you may get a blister.

If you do get a blister, be patient and try to leave it alone. Most blisters heal on their own in one to two weeks. Don’t resume the activity that caused your blister until it’s healed.

To treat a blister, dermatologists recommend the following:

  1. Cover the blister. Loosely cover the blister with a bandage. Bring in the sides of the bandage so that the middle of the bandage is a little raised.

  2. Use padding. To protect blisters in pressure areas, such as the bottom of your feet, use padding. Cut the padding into a donut shape with a hole in the middle and place it around the blister. Then, cover the blister and padding with a bandage.

  3. Avoid popping or draining a blister, as this could lead to infection. However, if your blister is large and very painful, it may be necessary to drain the blister to reduce discomfort. To do this, sterilize a small needle using rubbing alcohol. Then, use the needle to carefully pierce one edge of the blister, which will allow some of the fluid to drain.

  4. Keep the area clean and covered. Once your blister has drained, wash the area with soap and water and apply petroleum jelly. Do not remove the “roof” of the blister, as this will protect the raw skin underneath as it heals.

As your blister heals, watch for signs of an infection. If you notice any redness, pus, or increased pain or swelling, make an appointment to see your doctor or a board-certified dermatologist.

Friction Blisters

What Is It?

Published: March, 2019

A friction blister is a soft pocket of raised skin filled with clear fluid caused by irritation from continuous rubbing or pressure. Friction blisters usually occur on the feet, where tight or poor-fitting shoes can rub and irritate delicate toes and heels for long periods of time. This type of irritation causes minor damage to the skin and the tissue just beneath the skin, then fluid accumulates just beneath the outermost layer of skin. If the irritation is enough to damage small blood vessels, the blister also may contain blood, and is then called a blood blister.

Symptoms

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.

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Blisters between the toes: Causes and treatments

Different types of blisters can appear between the toes for various reasons:

Friction blister

Share on PinterestFriction, insect bites, and burns can all cause blisters between the toes.

The most common type of blister on the foot is a friction blister that appears when friction irritates the skin. This can happen when the toes rub against one another, or something else, such as a part of a shoe.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing a friction blister on the toes, including:

  • warm and moist skin, such as when feet sweat in hot shoes
  • extreme temperatures
  • wearing shoes that are new or that do not fit well
  • anatomical factors, such as toes that cross over one another

Friction blisters often break open on their own over time and may drain fluid. Sometimes the blister reforms after breaking. Breaking or picking at a blister can cause an infection and prolong healing, so people should keep friction blisters covered and avoid breaking them where possible.

Insect bites

Some insect bites cause the skin to blister. These blisters may look and feel similar to friction blisters, but they often itch.

As with friction blisters, it is important not to pick at or break blisters from insect bites.

Burns

Partial thickness burns, chemical burns, and ice burns can form blisters. Like the blisters seen in friction blisters, the blister in these thermal injuries can act as a natural barrier, protecting the wound from infections.

Infections

Numerous infections can cause blisters on the feet or between the toes, including:

  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a virus that causes painful blisters on the feet, hands, and mouth. It is highly contagious and is most common in young children. In most people, it goes away on its own after several days.
  • Bullous impetigo. Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin. Sometimes it can present with blistering, known as bullous impetigo.
  • Vesicobullous tinea pedis. Tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, is a fungal infection of the foot. Sometimes it can also present with blistering.
  • Cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection of the deep layers of skin. It appears when bacteria enter the skin, often through an injury such as a friction blister. Treatment is with antibiotics.

Blistering skin conditions

Some skin conditions cause painful blisters between the toes. They include:

  • Epidermolysis bullosa. Inherited epidermolysis bullosa is a chronic skin condition that usually appears in infancy or childhood. People with this disease blister easily from minor trauma.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema. This form of eczema causes blisters on the soles of the feet and between the toes or the palms of the hand and fingers. Doctors do not fully understand what causes eczema, though genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis. Allergic reactions may cause blisters throughout the body, or only on the area that came into contact with the allergen. A person might develop allergic blisters on their toes if they are allergic to something on their shoes, or a lotion they have used on their feet. This is known as allergic contact dermatitis.

What causes blisters on the feet?

Share on PinterestBlisters may appear as a response to injury or infection, and may be caused by friction against the skin.

Friction against the skin is what causes most blisters. However, anything that results in tissue or blood vessel damage to the outer skin can cause a blister.

Causes of blisters on the feet include:

Friction and pressure

A mixture of friction and pressure causes a majority of blisters on the feet.

When the skin of the feet is continually rubbed against a shoe, sock, or rough surface, irritation and inflammation often occur. The result is pain, swelling, and redness.

A red sore will usually develop on the foot before the blister itself. If the sore continues to be irritated or pressure is put on it, shearing of the skin occurs.

Shearing is where inflammation causes small tears in the skin. The body sends fluids to fill this opening and protect the more delicate, underlying tissue layers.

Friction blisters tend to be painful and tender to the touch and can be disabling.

Burning

When the skin is burned, the body may respond by creating a blister to protect underlying tissue layers from being damaged.

It may take a day or two for blisters to develop after first-degree burns, such as those resulting from sunburn. With more severe types of burns, blisters appear immediately.

As they are caused by a very painful condition, the symptoms of burn blisters are not noticed by most people, or they cannot be distinguished from those of the burn. Burn blisters tend to heal by the time the burn itself has healed.

Freezing

Extreme cold can cause frostbite, freezing and killing cells in the skin. When this happens, a blister develops to keep heat in the body.

Frostbite burns tend to appear immediately. As with burn blisters, most people have a hard time separating the symptoms of frostbite blisters from the symptoms of frostbite itself.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis or skin inflammation can occur whenever the skin is exposed to an irritant. If exposure continues, contact dermatitis can progress to form a blister.

Severe allergens and irritants can also result in enough inflammation and pressure to cause blisters.

Blisters either appear immediately or shortly after exposure to the irritant or over time with gradual, low-dose exposure. Chemical burns can also lead to blister formation.

Common causes of these types of blisters include:

  • insect bites and stings
  • skin allergens
  • chemicals in washing detergents
  • chemicals in shower or bath skin cleansers
  • chemical solvents or cleaners
  • sulfates
  • cobalt
  • nickel
  • toxic chemical agents or gases used in warfare
  • chemicals used in laboratory or clinical settings

Medical conditions

Any condition that weakens the outer layer of the skin can make it more vulnerable to blisters. Blisters can also be a symptom of certain infectious diseases and disorders.

Common medical conditions and treatments that may increase the risk of blisters on the feet include:

  • chicken pox
  • eczema, including dyshidrotic eczema, which causes small, very itchy blisters on the edges of the toes and soles of the feet
  • autoimmune conditions, such as bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus
  • diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage, causing a loss of sensation or pain in the feet
  • being overweight, which puts increased pressure on the feet
  • antibiotic treatment
  • blood-thinning medications

Ruptured blood vessels

When very tiny blood vessels in the epidermis of the skin break, they sometimes leak blood into the tissue layers, causing a blood blister. Blood blisters tend to occur when the skin is crushed or pinched.

Caring for Painful Foot Blisters

Blisters: When Not to Pop

The look of the sore, as well as the individual and cause, can determine the seriousness of a blister.

For a person with diabetes who has a blister on her foot, that situation could lead to a foot ulcer, even an infection, explains Timothy C. Ford, DPM, director of the podiatric residency program at Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare in Louisville, Ky. If the blister is large enough to cause difficulty walking, that person should have it drained by a doctor.

“You want to make sure there’s no infection going on and that it’s not actually an ulceration that’s down to the bone or something like that,” adds Dr. Mauser. You need to see the doctor if it’s “large or red, or really painful.”

If you experience severe redness, swelling, soreness, pus, or even pain at the site of your blister, have it checked out by a doctor. It’s probably gotten infected, and may need treatment with antibiotics to clear it up.

Blisters: Quick Fixes, Long-Term Care

While your blister heals, it’s likely to still be sore. You can do things to keep yourself comfortable until the pain subsides, like putting some padding on the spot.

To prevent a blister from forming up again, make sure your shoes fit properly and are comfortable. A thick sock that provides extra padding in areas where blisters are common can also help keep your feet blister-free.

But if those blisters won’t stay away, surgery is an option. “If it’s a recurrent thing and there is a bony prominence or deformity, you can fix that or remove it through surgery,” says Mauser.

Paying your feet the attention they deserve by choosing the right shoes and socks can help keep feet healthy and blister-free. But if you do get a blister, keep it clean and dry — and head to your doctor at the first sign of infection.

THE BODY BEAUTIFUL
For it to heal, Is it better to burst a blister or leave it be?

John McLaren, Edinburgh

  • Leave it be, if you can. The raised layer of skin and the air trapped beneath it protects the new layers of skin which are forming, and the blister will burst naturally when the new skin is ready. If you burst it too soon, then infection can get in. Leslie Smith, Currie, Midlothian

  • You should leave blisters as the fluid in them is needed by the body. It may seem trivial for a small blister but imagine the effects if you had been burned and someone burst a blister that covered a large portion of yor body! Paul Glover, Liverpool
  • The new skin forming underneath also hurts when the raw nerves are exposed to the air so leaving the blister alone will also stop it hurting. Louise O’Brien, Scarborough, UK
  • Soldiers used to be taught to pierce the skin beside the blister with a clean needle, sliding the needle underneath into the blister rather than piercing it. They did this a couple of times then gently squeezed out the fluid, repeating the process as necessary over a couple of days. I was taught this by an ex-Marine some years ago and it’s worked for me. Blisters are a dangerous thing on a long march and I’m sure the military know best! Carla Randle, Crewe UK
  • It maybe depends where it is. Talking of marching marines; when I and two others tackled the Pennine Way we pulled the short straw and it rained nearly all the way. Wet blisters seem to be larger in general, and you just CAN’T walk on them for any distance. I’ve always used a needle too (and plenty of tissues – sorry!), sterilised over a flame, then try to get it dry before putting a plaster on it and marching boldly on. The first few minutes can be a bit sore, but your feet soon ‘bed in’ and the protective layer of skin that is left protects very well. Until the plaster come adrift. Simon, Bristol U.K.

Add your answer

Blisters

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Raised pocket of fluid (usually clear) covered by skin
  • Friction Blister: Friction blisters usually occur on the palms, fingers, heels or toes.
  • Blood Blister: Raised pocket of bloody fluid, covered by skin. Dark red or purple in color. A blood blister can occur when the skin gets pinched (in a hinge or a closing door).
  • Blisters when the cause is unknown are also covered.

Causes of Blisters

  • Friction Blisters. Friction is the most common cause of blisters.
  • Burns – Chemical (Second-degree)
  • Burns – Thermal (Second-degree)
  • Frostbite (Second-degree)
  • Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease. Viral rash from Coxsackie virus gives tiny blisters on palms and soles.
  • Impetigo. Staph bacteria can cause impetigo with blisters.
  • Insect Bites. In young children, insect bites (such as fleas) can cause small blisters.
  • Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac
  • Sunburn (Second-degree)
  • Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome (Serious). SSSS is caused by the Staph bacteria. The main finding is widespread large blisters.

Friction Blisters – Hands and Feet

  • Friction causes most blisters on the hands and feet.
  • A friction blister is a raised pocket of clear fluid covered by skin.
  • Cause. A friction blister is the result of forces on the skin. Shear forces separate the top layer of the skin from the lower layer. This forms a cushion (blister) of fluid over the spot of friction or pressure.
  • Common Sites. Fingers, palm, back of heel, top of toes, side of foot.
  • Hand Friction Blisters. Hand blisters are often due to friction from using a tool too much. Examples are a shovel, pick, or rake. They can also be caused by sports equipment. Examples are a tennis racquet or boat oars. Gymnastics equipment (such as high bars) may also cause hand blisters.
  • Foot Friction Blisters. Foot blisters are likely due to friction from an activity. Examples are hiking or running. Usually, a child has new shoes or poorly-fitting shoes. Children starting a new sport may develop blisters. Also, a risk factor to forming blisters is recently increasing the activity time.
  • Prevention. There are two general approaches to prevent friction blisters. These are toughening the skin and lowering the friction force.
  • Complications. Pain or infection.
  • Treatment. Painless or mildly painful small blisters can be treated at home. Use moleskin or tape that has a hole cut in the center. Larger or very painful blisters sometimes need to be drained. This can be done by making a small hole in the blister. Use a clean needle or pin. Let all the blister fluid drain out. Then the blister can be covered with antibiotic ointment and a dressing.

When to Call for Blisters

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Fever and looks infected (spreading redness)
  • Widespread blisters
  • Cause not clear and blisters on face
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Looks infected (spreading redness or pus)
  • Severe pain and you want your doctor to drain the blister
  • Cause not clear and blister on one or more finger pads
  • Cause not clear and new blisters are developing
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • No new blisters but cause not clear
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal blister from friction
  • Normal blood blister from pinch injury to skin
  • Questions about prevention of foot blisters from hiking or running
  • Questions about prevention of hand blisters from sports or tools

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

Care Advice

Treatment of Normal Friction Blister

  1. What You Should Know – Friction Blister:
    • A friction blister is a raised pocket of clear fluid, covered by skin.
    • Most blisters should not be opened. Reason: It increases the risk of infection.
    • However, large or severely painful blisters often need to be drained. This is done by poking a small hole in the blister with a needle. (See #4 below)
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Protect the Blister:
    • Goal: Protect the blister from any more rubbing.
    • Surround it with a “donut” made from moleskin. Ask for this product at your drug store.
    • Using scissors, cut a moleskin piece to a shape larger than the blister.
    • Next cut a hole the size of the blister in the center. Do this by folding the moleskin in half and cut along the fold.
    • Remove the covering from the sticky side. Then, put the moleskin on with the blister in the center.
    • If the blister is taller than the moleskin, add one more layer of moleskin.
    • Hold the “donut” in place with a large strip of duct tape.
    • Other option. If you don’t have moleskin, use a bandage (such as Band-Aid). Fold it and cut the center out to the size of the blister.
    • For foot blisters, also switch to shoes that don’t rub the blister.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  4. Severe Pain – Drain the Blister:
    • Draining a large blister can help make the pain go away.
    • Wash the skin with warm water and soap.
    • Clean a needle or straight pin with rubbing alcohol.
    • Gently press the fluid to one side of the blister to create a bulge.
    • Pass the needle sideways through the fluid making 2 puncture holes. Gently wiggle the needle to make the holes larger.
    • Remove the needle.
    • Press the fluid out through the holes.
    • Leave the roof of the blister in place to protect the raw skin underneath.
    • Use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed. Put it on twice per day after cleansing.
    • Cover the drained blister with a bandage (such as Band-Aid).
  5. Broken Blister Treatment:
    • If the blister breaks open, let it drain.
    • Leave the roof of the blister in place to protect the raw skin underneath.
    • If there are any loose flaps of skin, trim them with a fine scissors.
    • Wash it with warm water and soap.
    • Use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed. Put it on twice a day.
    • Cover it with a bandage (such as Band-Aid).
  6. What to Expect:
    • Most often, they dry up and peel off without any treatment.
    • This may take 1 to 2 weeks.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Blister looks infected
    • Severe pain and you want your child’s doctor to drain the blister
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Treatment of Normal Blood Blister

  1. What You Should Know – Blood Blister:
    • A blood blister can happen when the skin gets pinched. Examples are a finger caught in a hinge or a closing door.
    • It forms a tiny pocket of bloody fluid covered by skin. It is dark red or purple in color.
    • A blood blister is not harmful.
    • No treatment is needed. You do not need to drain it.
    • It will slowly dry up and peel off over 1-2 weeks.
  2. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Prevention of Foot Blisters

  1. Prevention – General:
    • Shoes. Buy shoes that fit. Do not wear shoes that are too tight or too loose. New hiking boots are often somewhat stiff. It is wise to first wear them around the house and on short walks. Wear them in before wearing them on a long hike.
    • Socks. Do not use cotton socks. They tend to stay damp when wearing. Instead use synthetic (acrylic) or wool socks. Some people prefer to wear two socks at a time. You can wear a thin inner liner (‘wicking’) sock and a thicker outer sock.
    • Lubricants. If your child often gets blisters at the same spot, use a lubricant. You can use petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline). Cover the area with a small amount of the lubricant before sports. This will help to reduce friction on the spot.
    • Callus. If blisters usually occur under a callus, file the callus down. Then, lubricate it. This way it won’t add to the friction.
    • Taping Pressure Points. If a lubricant doesn’t stop blisters, taping is the next step. Taping is a very good way to treat hot spots for friction blisters. Many hikers and runners use taping. Follow the instructions listed down below.
  2. Prevention – Taping:
    • Option 1 – Moleskin
    • You can get moleskin at your drug store. It is a good way to stop friction blisters. Here are some instructions on how to use moleskin.
    • Using scissors, cut the moleskin to a shape slightly larger than the pressure point.
    • Remove the backing from the moleskin. Put it on the pressure point. Smooth it from the center outward so that there are no wrinkles.
    • Put on a clean and dry sock.
    • Option 2 – Taping with Duct Tape
    • Duct tape is available at your hardware store. It is also good at stopping friction blisters. Many hikers and runners use it. Here are some instructions on how to use duct tape.
    • Using scissors, cut out a piece of duct tape into a shape slightly larger than the pressure point.
    • Apply the piece of duct tape to the pressure point. Smooth it from the center outward so that there are no wrinkles.
    • Put on a clean and dry sock.
  3. Prevention – Toughening the Skin:
    • This mainly applies to walkers, hikers, and runners.
    • Slowly add to the distance you hike or run over days to weeks. This will increase the toughness of the skin. It will lower the risk of blisters forming.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

Prevention of Hand Blisters

  1. Prevention:
    • Gloves. Wear heavy-duty work gloves when working with the hands. Also, use gloves when working with tools. Examples are shovels, picks, and rakes. Sports gloves can be used for rowing, paddling, weight lifting or cycling.
    • Lubricants. Lower friction at pressure points by covering them with a lubricant. You can use petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline).
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 02/01/2020

Last Revised: 03/14/2019

Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

You’ve laced up your brand new running shoes; they’re featherlight and oh-so-snug. Goodbye, couch. Hello, 5K. But 10 minutes into your run, and you feel a painful rub. Your ankles start to burn with every footfall.

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The next morning, the ankles look worse. The angry, red skin has formed sacs of fluid (a.k.a. blisters).

Depending on the cause, blisters can be filled with any of the following:

• Plasma.
• Blood.
• Serum.
• Pus.

“The fluid works to further prevent damage to the skin below and to allow the skin to heal,” says Shilpi Khetarpal, MD.

Should you pop or break a blister?

The short answer? No.

“Blisters should never be unroofed as this is your body’s way of forming a bandage,” Dr. Khetarpal says.

Most people should leave blisters alone and let them heal on their own. But for certain people at risk for infection, a doctor may choose to use a sterile needle to allow fluid to drain.

This is especially the case for people with compromised immune systems (people with HIV, diabetes, or those who take medications that suppress the immune system).

Are you prone to getting blisters?

Some preexisting skin disease can put you at risk for blisters.

Or the cause could be as simple as walking around with wet or damp feet (whether from sweat or from being in water).

“In either case, you’re more prone to blisters because the skin barrier is compromised,” Dr. Khetarpal says.

Besides the feet, blisters also commonly form on people’s hands — as both of these areas undergo repetitive friction and abrasion.

How do you prevent blisters?

Of course, the best way to prevent blisters is to wear shoes that fit you properly.

However, even with proper fit, new shoes are still more likely to cause blisters than your worn-in favorites. Some materials, like leather, need some wear to soften and mold to your feet.

You can use bandages in key areas to protect skin as you break in new shoes. Also, foot powders can help by keeping feet cool and dry.

If you tend to sweat a lot, it’s a good idea to either change your socks often or to wear sandals when it’s possible.

Can blisters scar?

The depth of the blister determines whether or not it will scar.

“The deeper the injury (particularly when it comes to a chemical or heat burn), the more likely it is for a scar to form.

Typically, friction blisters do not scar as they tend to be more superficial,” Dr. Khetarpal says.

When should you see a doctor?

While blisters often form because of direct irritation of the skin, some medical conditions also can cause blisters all over the body.

If this happens, it is important you see a dermatologist for evaluation and treatment.

Pinky Toe Blisters – Causes & How To Prevent

by Rebecca Rushton 2 Comments

Oh the pain of a blistered little toe! Is there anything worse?

When your pinky toe hurts and you have to keep walking, you’ll be so glad you read this article. Learn about combating the common causes of outer little toe blisters, including: toe shape; shoes too tight, too narrow, too loose or too rigid; and the shoe upper being rigid or with prominent internal seams.

  • Table of contents

  • What causes blisters on the outside of little toe?
  • How to treat and prevent blisters on your pinky toe
  • Broken pinky toe?
  • Conclusion – and a funny pic

Read this article if your pinky toe blister is under or between your toes.

Little toe blister – Image credit Mom2marathon.com

Then I’ll cover the best pinky toe blister prevention strategies, which are:

  • Shoe fit
  • Taping
  • Gel toe protectors
  • Engo blister patches for pinky toe
  • Surgery

Fun fact: Pinky toe blisters are THE most common blister location on the whole foot!

What causes blisters on the outside of little toe?

The dominant cause of outside pinky toe blisters is a curly 5th toe. We call it adductovarus. Have a look at your little finger – hold it out straight. Now bend it. See how there are two joints that stick out? Now grab it with your other hand and twist it so your fingernail goes under your 4th finger. Take a look at that first joint sticking right out. Imagine having to wear a shoe on your hand! That joint is going to cop it! More precisely, the skin overlying the prominent joint is going to cop it, being stuck between a rock and a hard place (the toe bone and your shoe upper).

A curly pinky toe (adductovarus) is commonly blistered

How to treat and prevent blisters on your pinky toe

My pinky toe hurts when I put pressure on it. How can I stop this happening?

1) Shoe-fit and shoe properties

If you’re getting pinky toe pain from shoes, check the following four things regarding shoe fit. Shoe fit is paramount for blisters on the outside of the little toe.

  1. The toe box of your shoe simply must accommodate your toes, in depth and width. You can’t expect to be pain-free or blister-free without this important aspect of shoe-fit being met. If you’re not sure, stand on a piece of paper and trace around your foot. Now pull the insole out of your shoe and put it on your tracing. Can you cover up all the pen marks? If you can see pen, this is where your shoe is too narrow. Get wider shoes.
  2. Your heel simply must be sitting right to the back of your shoe. If your shoes are too big and loose and your foot is sliding forward, your toes are jamming into a narrower part of the shoe. Tie your laces firmly to prevent your foot slipping forward.
  3. Obviously, shoes with a more flexible upper in the region of the little toe will help. If you can make a change, do. But all is not lost. I’ll show you how to cushion your toe regardless.
  4. Watch for seams in the shoe’s upper, right where the little toe is. They are common and will make the situation worse. You can get around this with one of the following preventions.

The importance of shoe-fit cannot be overstated in preventing little toe blisters

Unfortunately, even with all of these aspects of shoe-fit being met, outer pinky toe pain when walking is still possible when your toe is curly. Why? Because we haven’t fixed the root of the problem – the curly toe. That can only truly be fixed by surgery. But there are two more things you can try – to address the pressure and friction that contribute to blisters.

2) Pre-taping

This one location where a simple protective layer in the form of tape, moleskin or an island dressing (eg: Bandaid) can help prevent and relieve pinky toe pain and swelling. If that’s not enough, take cushioning up a notch or two (more like 100) and get a gel toe protector.

Fixomull Stretch – Learn more

3) Gel toe protectors (sleeves or caps)

These devices are great for two reasons:

  • They cushion the prominent joints thereby reducing pressure.
  • The gel material is excellent at absorbing shear. And remember, the more shear that occurs within the gel material, the less shear that has to happen within the skin of your little toe.

You can grab the BlisterPod Gel Toe Protector Sleeves and Caps from our online store – they’re a deluxe double thickness gel toe cover for the ultimate in toe cushioning and protection.

The gel material of gle toe sleeves and gel toe caps is excellent at absorbing the forces that cause blisters. You simply cannot get better. Here’s a little-used technique that prevents the protector from bunching up between your toes AND stops it from slipping off.

A word of caution though, only use gel toe protectors on intact and unblistered skin. If your skin is weakened and weepy, the skin will become soggy and macerated. If already blistered, you’ll have to settle on the island dressing or blister plaster you’ll be using as part of your blister treatment.

4) Engo blister patch

An ENGO Patch is a great way to cover any rough seams on the internal lining of your shoe and the best way there is to reduce friction levels. Consider an ENGO Blister Patch when:

  • You don’t think your little toe is curly but you’re still getting blisters.
  • The gel toe cover takes up too much room in your shoe.
  • If maceration is an issue.
  • If you already have a blister

It can be tricky to get all the way down to the end of your toebox for this blister location. Rather than cut your shoe in half like I have for the below demonstration 😉 you’ll need to take your laces right out to get good access down there.

ENGO Patch placement on shoe upper for little toe protection

Also, be aware that if you’re wearing shoes with mesh uppers, water can get in from the outside, compromise the adhesive and the patch may dislodge. Read more about the pros and cons of ENGO Patches here.
Here’s the ENGO 6-Pack, below. Use either the large or small ovals from this pack, depending on the size of the coverage you need.

5) Surgery

Of course, if your little toe is bent and this is the cause of recurring blistering on the outside of the toe, surgically straightening the toe is one solution. It may seem extreme, and you wouldn’t have toe surgery willy-nilly. But I’ve seen toes where this is a good option. Consider toe surgery if:

  • Compromising on shoe fit is not an option (perhaps your work requires it, or it’s just a personal choice).
  • There’s no room available for the gel toe protectors.
  • You can’t reach your feet to tape or put the gel toe protectors on.
  • Your work or active lifestyle requires significant relief and blistering recurs in spite of your best efforts with all of the above
  • Your health allows it

Broken pinky toe?

The pinky toe is the most commonly broken toe. Fracturing a toe bone or dislocating one of the joints can lead to a permanently misshapen toe that is susceptible to blister formation. So it makes sense that you do what you can to avoid this.

Most people I see who think they have broken their pinky toe have tried to tape it to the next toe. The problem is, it’s quite painful to do so, what with all the inflammation and swelling. The tape ends up being a hindrance whilst serving no benefit at all. Most fractures are small (not right through the bone), so the intact bone prohibits the toe from bending into any unusual positions.

The only time you might choose to tape your pinky toe to the next one is if it has dislocated. Dislocation usually happens without a bone break – but it’s just as painful. Dislocating your pinky toe mean you’ve stretched or maybe snapped the ligament that’s meant to be holding one bone in alignment with the next. Your toe might be pointing in the wrong direction and give you quite a shock! Once you’ve manually pulled the toe straight again, you need to ensure the toe sits straight while the damaged ligaments heal and get back to full strength. It would be best to get some professional advice and treatment on this because the toe is in a vulnerable state and taping the toe in the wrong position or the wrong way could actually cause the toe to change shape. A period of non-weightbearing or semi-weightbearing with crutches is ideal to eliminate the potentially destabilizing forces of gait on your injured pinky toe.

Conclusion – and a funny pic

Pinky toe blisters often deroof and can become very nasty, very quickly. Have you tried any of these options? If you have but it hasn’t worked, try the next one – I’ve ranked these in order of effectiveness. You can use combinations of these strategies too.

Which will you choose to allow you to walk and run pinky toe pain-free?

What number is your pinky toe blister? (Image credit: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com)

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Rebecca Rushton

Author

Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leader, author and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.

2 Responses

November 30, 2019

You haven’t mentioned anything about blisters John. It’s important to know that not everything that feels like a hot-spot is a pre-blister state. Watch this: https://youtu.be/OFPqLsGt56E

John Wolfe

June 24, 2019

Hi Rebecca,
Was getting pain on foot just below the big tow and an examination showed that was where all my weight was going.I had a pair of orthotics inserted and made a difference in that the hot spot was now spread across the upper foot pad below the toe line.I had more cushioning applied to the orthotics as well purchased a pair of Anti Blister Armaskin socks. Went for a 20 klm walk and found feet were still sore and felt some hot spot.Can you offer any other suggestions.

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Why Do I Keep Getting Blisters Between My Toes?

What your podiatrists in Phoenix want you to know about blisters

Blisters on your feet and between your toes are very common, and they can also be very painful. Blisters are elevated bumps in the upper layers of your skin. They are usually clear and contain fluid, but they can appear red or yellow if they contain blood or pus. Your podiatrists at Southwest Foot Institute in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale, AZ want to help treat and prevent your blisters.

Your body forms a blister when your skin becomes damaged. The fluid-filled blister forms a protective cushion around your damaged skin to allow your damaged skin to heal. Blisters are more likely to develop from short periods of intense friction; longer periods of less intense friction may cause corns or calluses.

There are a few things that can cause blisters. Your podiatrists in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale want you to know some of the more common reasons why you might get blisters between your toes. Blisters are caused by:

  • Friction, which is the most common cause; if you are a runner or walk long distances you can develop blisters. Wearing new shoes that are not broken-in, or badly fitting shoes can also cause friction. If the fabric of your shoes rubs against your skin for a prolonged period of time, a blister can result.
  • Warm, moist skin, which is more likely to cause the skin to blister, than if your skin is dry; increased perspiration also puts you at greater risk of getting blisters.
  • Hot temperatures and too much exposure to UV light, which can cause sunburn and result in blisters
  • Cold temperatures and frostbite, which can damage and destroy tissue; Blisters may develop in an attempt to protect your skin from damage.
  • Chemical exposure from cosmetics, detergents or solvents

Your podiatrists want to share a few simple tips on how to prevent and treat blisters:

  • Always wear protective shoes that fit well, with plenty of toe room
  • Always use sunscreen, especially on your feet and between your toes
  • Leave your blister intact if possible; don’t try to break it open
  • For broken blisters, don’t remove the skin. Cover the area with a bandage

If you have blisters, it can be a painful experience, but you don’t need to suffer alone. For more tips and tricks on how to avoid blisters, call your podiatrists at Southwest Foot Institute with offices in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale, AZ. Call today; your toes will feel better tomorrow!

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