Blisters: To Pop or Not to Pop...That is the Question

Bubbles are usually thought of in a fond way—bubble gum, blowing bubbles, bubble baths. Bubbles on your feet, however, not so much. These bothersome bumps, otherwise known as blisters, can cause all sorts of discomfort and make everyday activities—even just wearing shoes—difficult without pain. They also bring up an age old question: “Should I pop, or not?” Here’s what the experts at Podiatry Associates, P.C. have to say:

How Do They Pop Up?

Treating Blisters in Your Feet

Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that can form as a result of a burn, certain skin conditions, or a bug bite. However, the most common reason they develop is friction, such as when shoes rub against the skin of your feet. These bubbles are your body’s attempt to place a buffer between you and the source that’s rubbing you the wrong way. The problem is, their attempt to provide protection actually causes pain.

Popping the Question

So, should you pop or not? It depends. A small blister typically heals on its own without doing anything more than covering it with a loose bandage or a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad. A bigger blister, though, can cause bigger problems. Besides being painful, there is a danger that the outer layer of skin will tear off, exposing the vulnerable underlying layers to outside bacteria and infection. It is important to keep that outer layer intact for protection. Sometimes the best way to handle this is by safely “popping” the bubble. If this is the case, there are steps to take in order to drain it properly.

The Proper Pop

First, wash your hands and the blister with warm, soapy water.  Next swipe some rubbing alcohol over the affected area as well as a needle to sterilize it. Now, gently poke a tiny hole or two along the blister’s edge. Allow the fluid to drain. You may need to lightly push on it to help the fluid out, taking care to leave the overlying skin in place. Finally, cover the area with some antibiotic ointment and a bandage. You may need to reapply for a few days. While the healing is in process, it’s important to watch for signs of infection. If you notice redness, swelling, warmth, or drainage, give Podiatry Associates, P.C. a call. It is also important to note that those with diabetes should never attempt this at home as infection can lead to serious complications.

Pop Quiz on Prevention

Do you know the best way to prevent blisters from forming on your feet?

  1. Make sure your shoes fit properly
  2. Always wear socks with your footwear
  3. Protect problem areas with padding, gauze, or bandages
  4. All of the above

The answer is D: All of the above! If you play sports, you can even look for special athletic socks that have additional cushioning in critical areas. Take these precautionary steps and you can say good-bye to those bubbles for good!

For more first aid tips regarding blisters or any other foot problems, contact Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen or any member of the team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. in CO. You can make an appointment by calling (303) 805-5156, or by visiting us online.

Photo Credit: Simon Howden via