Foot Pain
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Common Foot Blister Causes and How to Prevent Them

Ill-fitting shoes can cause painful blisters that keep you from daily activity. Learn more causes of foot blisters and how to prevent them.

Published on
October 14, 2022
Big painful foot blister

Blisters are a painful skin condition in which fluid-filled sacs develop when the superficial layer of skin is damaged or injured. They act as a cushion to protect the injured area. Blisters usually occur in body parts like hands and feet, which have a thick outermost skin layer. 

Read on to learn more about blisters on feet causes, their symptoms, and how to prevent foot blisters.

Foot Blister Causes and Symptoms 

Foot blisters are painful because many blood vessels and nerves are in the foot. Any stimulus that damages the skin can ok.l.lead to blister formation. Here are some common causes and symptoms of foot blisters:

Pressure and friction 

This is the most common cause of blister development. It usually occurs due to constant friction or pressure against abrasive surfaces like tight or uncomfortable footwear. Walking or standing for long periods can also put more pressure on your soles, heels, and toes.


If your skin burns, the body develops blisters as a protective measure toward the delicate tissues underneath the skin. With severe burns, blisters may appear immediately, but you may not notice them due to the burn. Mild burns or sunburn blisters may take one or two days to appear. Excessive moisture from perspiration during hot weather can also increase skin friction and sweat, clogging the skin pores and leading to blisters.


You may get frostbite in extremely frigid temperatures, causing the death of some skin cells and resulting in blisters. Although frostbite blisters may appear soon after exposure, you may find it difficult to differentiate the symptoms from frostbite wounds.

Contact dermatitis 

Exposure to any allergen or irritant causes your skin to inflame, leading to blisters. Chemical burns can also cause blisters. These blisters may be visible immediately if the chemical is strong or the amount of exposure is high. Steady or low-dose exposure can result in the gradual development of blisters. Some of the main types of irritants include insect bites or stings, chemicals in skin cleansers, detergents, or cleaning solutions, metals like cobalt or nickel, corrosive lab chemicals, sulfates, and toxic agents or gases.

Damaged blood vessels

If the small blood vessels (capillaries) in the topmost layer of the skin burst, they can leak blood into the tissue, leading to blood blisters. These blisters usually occur when your skin is pinched or crushed with great force.

Other conditions 

Medical conditions or medication that causes skin damage can result in blister formation. Some of the common medical causes of blisters include the following: infections like chicken pox, diabetic neuropathy, skin reactions like dyshidrotic eczema (dry skin with blisters), autoimmune conditions like pemphigus, plantar wart treatment, medications like antibiotics and blood thinners, and obesity, which increases the pressure on your feet.

How Friction Blisters Form 

Human skin has three layers — epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous (under the skin) fat. Blisters develop when a pocket of fluid collects below the epidermis or the uppermost skin layer. This fluid may be blood, pus (if the blister becomes infected), or a clear liquid (most common), depending on the type of injury causing the blister. 

Friction blisters form when your skin rubs against rough surfaces like shoes or socks for prolonged periods. This rubbing causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, resulting in redness, swelling, and pain. Initially, a red sore develops in the inflamed area. If you don’t remove the source of friction, small tears can occur in the raw skin. Body fluids then seep into this area to protect the underlying tissues from further harm. These friction blisters can be painful and tender to the touch, making it difficult to walk or apply weight to the sore spot. 

Preventing Painful Blister Formation 

Regular foot care is critical to prevent skin irritation, which may result in blisters. Here are some additional precautions you can take to avoid painful foot blisters and what causes foot blisters:

Take Time to Break in Your New Kicks

Shoe bites are a common cause of blisters. Avoid tight or ill-fitting shoes to minimize the risk of blisters, and don’t immediately wear new shoes to long outings. Take the time to break them in first. You can do this by wearing them at home for brief periods, using chunky socks, or even blow-drying them so that the heat can expand the material. 

Wear Moisture-Wicking Socks 

Wear an extra pair of socks to protect your feet when planning strenuous activities that involve a lot of walking or running. But this may increase perspiration in hot weather, resulting in sweaty feet. Instead, use moisture-wicking socks that can absorb sweat to minimize chafing. 

If you’re unsure where to get good-quality moisture-wicking socks, we recommend the official sock of The Toe Bro. These socks dry quickly, help in temperature and odor control, and are highly durable.

Add Shoe Inserts to Reduce Rubbing 

Some shoes may have rough seams that increase chafing. Shoe inserts like cushioned insoles or heel pads can help shock absorption and minimize the friction caused by walking, jogging, or running outdoors for a long time. 

At Home Treatment Options 

Blisters usually heal on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. The most important trick is to remove the stimulus that caused the blister. Here are some other tips recommended by dermatologists to self-treat your blisters:

  • Apply a cold compress or an ice pack wrapped in a towel to your blister for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce the painful swelling.
  • Cover the blister loosely with a soft bandage, with the middle portion slightly raised.
  • Place padding in a donut shape around the blister to reduce pressure on your feet.
  • Avoid picking at or popping blisters, although large blisters may need draining. Pierce the edge with a small, sterilized needle to let the fluid drain out without applying excessive force.
  • After the blister bursts or you drain it, gently clean the area with mild soap or antiseptic solution, pat it dry, and apply petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment.
  • Don’t pull off the skin at the surface of the burst blister, as it will protect the damaged skin from debris and the risk of infection until it heals.

When to See a Health Professional Like The Toe Bro 

You may need foot blister treatment from a licensed foot specialist if the blister is oozing pus, bleeding, or emitting a foul odor.

Seek medical attention immediately if you notice that your blister isn’t healing, seems infected, or you begin to have symptoms like fever, nausea, or chills. 

The Toe Bro also recommends high-quality products to maintain your best foot health. 

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Related blog post

Foot Corn vs. Plantar Wart: How To Spot the Difference

Any painful bump on your foot can be a cause for concern. Raised growths such as corns or plantar warts can cause serious discomfort that limits daily activities. Standing, walking, or exercising can become very painful. Both of these common foot conditions are frustrating, but a foot specialist like Jonathan "The Toe Bro" Tomines can help you learn more about these common foot conditions, including how to treat them effectively. 

Foot Corn vs. Plantar Wart: What's the Difference?

Corns and plantar warts both cause raised growths on your foot. They can look and feel similar, but they have different causes. Corns result from pressure or friction on your foot and plantar warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). You can talk to a foot specialist to determine which type of growth is affecting you and what treatments can resolve pain and improve the health of your feet. 

Foot Corn

Corns are raised spots on the foot caused by thickened layers of skin. They're similar to calluses in that they're caused by a build-up of skin due to friction. Corns are typically smaller and more localized than calluses, appearing as small bumps. They can be painful, particularly when you put pressure on them. 

Typically Develops on a Pressure Point From Tight Shoes

Corns often develop on top of the toes, the sides of the feet, or between toes due to pressure, usually from shoes. You can also develop corns on the soles of the feet. Tight or poorly fitting shoes are a common reason for corns. The friction and rubbing from ill-fitting shoes will cause you to develop extra layers of hardened skin on pressure points. 

Two Types of Corns: Hard vs. Soft Corns

There are two types of corns: hard corns and soft corns. 

Hard corns are small, dense spots that might be surrounded by a larger area of callused or dry skin. They usually appear on the top of the toes, side of the foot, or other areas where shoes place pressure on the bone.  

Soft corns are soft, rubbery bumps that usually appear between the toes and may be gray or white. They're caused by toes putting pressure on one another, usually from being pressed together inside shoes. 

Hurts When Direct Pressure Is Applied

Corns tend to be painful or tender when pressure is applied, and shoes that rub corns can irritate them and cause more pain. Walking on corns may also cause discomfort. 

Treatment Options for Corns

The main goal in treating corns is to remove the layers of excess skin. Your doctor may recommend using gentle exfoliation at home to reduce the size of the corn. First, soak the affected foot in warm water to soften the dry, flaky skin of the corn. Once the skin is softened, gently rub the corn with a pumice stone or emery board to remove the top layers of dead skin. Use moisturizer to keep your skin soft, and wear shoes that don't put pressure on the corn. 

Wearing "corn pads," which are small donut-shaped adhesive patches, can reduce pressure on the corns. The pads will help prevent pain and reduce the risk of the corns getting larger. 

In some cases, corns are due to a foot deformity that leads to constant pressure. In rare cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to address the underlying structural deformity to prevent future corn formation. 

Plantar Wart

Plantar warts are raised growths caused by a virus. They appear on the sole of the foot, and pressure from shoes or standing on them can cause pain.

Can Grow Anywhere on Foot Due To Direct Contact With a Virus

Plantar warts are small, rough growths on the bottom of the foot. They're caused by HPV, which is also responsible for the type of common warts found on other areas of the body, such as the hands. 

HPV is a very common viral infection and enters the body via tiny cuts or breaks in the skin. It's a contagious virus. Plantar warts can spread from skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces such as the floor in a locker room or shared shower facility.

Viral Warts Often Appear in Clusters With Black Pinpoints

Plantar warts don't usually have the raised, bumpy appearance typical of warts that appear on the hands. The pressure from standing on plantar warts causes them to grow inward instead of outward. They usually look like rough patches with small black dots on them. These are small clotted blood vessels knowns as wart seeds. 

Several Effective Methods for Treatment of Warts 

A diagnosis of plantar warts doesn't necessarily mean you need immediate treatment. Many plantar warts will eventually go away on their own. If they are painful or causing problems, there are effective methods for treating warts, depending on the severity of the wart.

Cryotherapy: Your doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to the wart to destroy the virus and affected tissue. You may require several treatments to get rid of the wart completely.

Prescription topical medication: Your doctor will give you a high-strength salicylic acid medicine that you apply to the warts. The medication will remove the wart one layer at a time. You may need to come in for occasional appointments to make sure the treatment is working. 

Blistering: Your doctor can apply a medication called cantharidin to the wart, which causes a blister to form underneath it, killing the wart. You will need to return for a second appointment to remove the dead wart. 

Laser treatments: Pulled dye laser treatments can cut off the blood supply to the wart, which kills it. You may need several treatments spaced two to four weeks apart to remove the wart completely.

Surgery: Your doctor will excise the wart with an electrical instrument to cut it out of your foot. This requires a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure. The procedure comes with a risk of scarring and lingering pain. Surgery may only be recommended if other treatment options have failed. 

Consult a Foot Specialist for Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment of Foot Lesions

You should seek medical advice if you're trying to figure out if that's a corn on your foot vs. a plantar wart or if you notice any other type of new or unusual growth. It helps to speak with a foot expert like The Toe Bro. Dr. Tomines is a qualified chiropodist with a lifelong passion for improving foot health. He can help you get appropriate treatment and get you back on your feet.

Gout Tophi Symptoms and Removal

"lumps" on your toe joints underneath your skin. If so, you may be suffering from gout tophi.

Having gout tophi on toes can be painful and embarrassing. It's important to know what tophi are and how to recognize them for your foot health. 

So what are some common symptoms of tophi gout, and how can you prevent or treat them? You'll find the answers in this article.

Common Tophaceous Gout Symptoms

A swollen feet next to a healthy one

Tophi alone doesn't hurt you, but they can be painful when they swell from being actively inflamed. 

They may also affect the appearance of your toes. They can gradually disintegrate your toe joint tissue, making your joints look bent or twisted — No one wants that!

Because tophi stretch the skin out, they can occasionally cause painful sores. During severely painful episodes of gout attacks, they may even break open and release hardened uric acid, which looks like a soft white material.

Some other common symptoms of tophaceous gout flare-ups include:

  • Severe pain in the joint
  • Tenderness, warmth, and swelling at the tophus
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Discomfort when using the affected joint
  • Difficulty using the affected joint
  • Shiny, red skin over the affected joint

So how do these tophi develop?

Development of Uric Acid Crystals in Joint

Gout is an arthritic condition that arises when monosodium urate (MSU) crystals accumulate in the joint and cause an inflammatory response. MSU crystals form when uric acid — a waste product produced when the body breaks down purines — combines and has reactions with sodium ions.

Gout is the most common type of arthritis. Some common causes of gout include:

  • Kidney problems
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Diuretic therapy
  • Purine-heavy foods 

You can have acute arthritis, where joint inflammation and pain will strike rapidly and fade over time. You can also have chronic arthritis, where pain and symptoms are ongoing.

Tophi develop when chronic gout is left untreated for an extended period — often ten years or more. The levels of uric acid continue to increase and the gout crystals gradually build up around the joints, causing bulbous, swollen growths to appear.

How To Treat Gouty Tophi

You're probably a little freaked out by now. But don't worry! Thankfully there are several ways to treat gout tophi.

Tophi Removal By Medical Professional

Small tophi often do not require surgery to treat, but a medical professional may recommend gout tophi removal if your tophi are large. In those cases, surgery is best to prevent your joint from losing range of motion or even becoming permanently damaged.

Your doctor may be able to make a small incision above the tophus and remove it by hand. If the affected joint is too damaged, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or Systemic Steroid Therapy

Management of gout is important to reduce your chance of developing tophi.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil or Aleve help relieve inflammation and pain from joint damage from tophi and gout attacks. These are the first-line defense for acute arthritis from gout. 

There are also adjunctive therapies available to treat patients with gout. You may go through urate-lowering therapy after multiple gout attacks or tophi development. You will be prescribed medications that directly treat gout and prevent an increase in your levels of uric acid.

Recommendations for Gout Prevention

Prevention is always the best cure. You can use the following methods before you get a gout diagnosis to keep your feet healthy.

Consistently Monitor Uric Acid Levels

A close up of test tubes filled with blood

Regularly visit your health care provider to have a blood sample taken and tested. They may also have you complete a uric acid urine test, during which you will use a provided collection container to collect all your urine passed for 24 hours.

You can also monitor your uric acid levels at home. Purchase a digital uric acid meter, which includes lancelets and test strips to take and read your blood samples. You will get an immediate reading and can monitor your levels of uric acid as often as needed.

Consume Proper Nutrients

a table filled of healthy vegetables

As mentioned above, uric acid is a waste product of your body's purine breakdown. 

Purines are molecules in your cells' DNA and RNA that are made up of nitrogen and carbon. They can also enter the body via food. A high purine dietary intake is one of the primary causes of gout, so you should avoid foods high in purines. 

Some foods to avoid:

  • Seafood: anchovies, scallops, and herring
  • Sugary foods and beverages: sodas and any other foods made with high fructose corn syrup
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Meat: organ meat and game meats

Instead, you should eat a healthy diet that is lower in purines. Include foods such as: 

  • No-fat or low-fat dairy products
  • Cherries
  • Whole grains
  • Plenty of water
  • Coffee and tea
  • Healthy fats and oils
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and grains, including peanut butter
  • Chicken, fish, and red meat

Some vegetables such as asparagus, peas, and oatmeal are high in purines but do not raise the blood's uric acid levels. Their high fiber content may be beneficial for gout.

It may sound like you can't eat any of the good stuff, but it's worth it for your health. Whole foods and a plant-based diet lower levels of uric acid and inflammation, reduce symptoms of existing chronic arthritis conditions, and reduce the risk of developing other types of arthritis. 

Treat and Ice Joint Pain Early in the Inflammatory Process

A shovel laying down on ice cubes

Don't try to bear the pain when you first notice discomfort in your joint.  Applying an ice pack to the affected joint may help ease the inflammation and pain. You can wrap a bag of frozen peas or crushed ice in a dish cloth and apply it to the area for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day. 

Maintain Foot Health To Help With Your Gouty Arthritis

Close up of foot laying down on a rock

Tophi gout on your feet can lead to painful symptoms such as swelling, severe pain, loss of motion, and even bursting sores if left untreated. 

Thankfully you can prevent tophi by monitoring your uric acid levels, consuming proper nutrients, and treating joint pain early in the process. If you already have developed gout tophi, you can have them professionally removed or try anti-inflammatory drugs or adjunctive therapy.

There are also many products you can use to alleviate painful symptoms, improve the condition of your skin, and maintain your foot health. The Toe Bro offers effective, high-quality foot care products like skin foot foams and foot spray deodorants to improve your foot health. Check us out to get relief from your foot problems today.

7 Foot Care Tips for Better Foot Health

Your feet work hard. They take several thousand steps a day to get you from point A to point B — all while bearing the weight of your body. You stand on them a long time and put them into shoes that may not be the best fit. Unfortunately, these conditions can eventually cause a range of foot problems. So how can you take care of your feet and avoid chronic foot issues? This article will cover seven excellent foot care tips to keep your feet healthy.

Foot Care Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy

It's important to know how to take care of your feet to keep them healthy for years to come. You can implement these seven tips to build a good foot care routine and avoid foot issues.

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Shoes

Shoe fit is very important to your foot health. 

Tight shoes restrict your blood flow, causing poor circulation that damages your feet in the long run. They may also cause foot pain that could become chronic. 

Over time, you may notice calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, and corns on your feet. They may even deform your feet with conditions like hammertoes and bunions.

2. Wear Shoes With Arch Support

Once you've got comfortable shoes that fit, you need to make sure your arch is adequately supported. Your arch does it all — it supports your body weight, propels you forward when you move, and absorbs shock anytime your foot hits the ground. Over time, your arch can become strained or weakened from the stress.

Arch supports keep your arch in good condition because they:

  • Distribute pressure evenly
  • Support the lower body
  • Help with alignment
  • Prevent arch trauma
  • Provide balance and stability
  • Prevent and lessen foot pain

So really, everyone can benefit from arch supports. Look for shoe brands that are known for providing good arch support. You may benefit from a custom shoe insert if you have shoes that fit well but don't provide enough arch support.

Also, try to avoid wearing flats and flip-flops every day. Although they are comfortable, they don't support your arch enough and may lead to a foot injury down the line.

3. Keep Your Feet Clean and Mostly Dry

Feet often sweat throughout the day, providing a perfect breeding ground for harmful fungi. So pay special attention to your feet when you shower or bathe. Good foot hygiene goes a long way toward eliminating foot odor. 

Be careful! You don't want to soak your feet in hot water or leave them in the water for too long. This may cause dry skin, which leads to skin irritation and flaking. 

After you clean your feet thoroughly, be sure to dry them. Don't be shy — get in between your toes to prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot.

4. Inspect Regularly for Foot Ailments

Practicing a good foot care routine allows you to catch any potential issues before they arise. Inspect your feet for any changes daily, and look out for any sores, cuts, swelling, or infected toenails.

Use antiseptic and healing creams if you notice any cuts, and go to the podiatrist immediately if you have unexpected swelling or infected toenails. 

After all, prevention is always the best cure.

5. Use Nail Clippers Correctly

We may tend to use nail clippers to clip and shape our toenails. But this can cause damage to the tender skin of your nail bed. 

It's important to use nail clippers correctly. Make sure they're stainless steel, so the blades stay sharp for longer. A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. 

Use the nail clippers only to trim the toenail straight across. You then want to use a nail file or emery board to gently smooth and round the corners. 

You can also use the nail file or emery board to push your cuticles back. However, you want to avoid cutting them, so they don't split or bleed.

6. Use Moisturizing Cream at Night

Chronic dry skin can cause skin irritation and flakiness. To avoid this, use moisturizing cream every night right after you dry your feet off. 

You can use creams, lotions, or even petroleum jelly. These are all nourishing emollients that sink into the skin and create a barrier to protect it. Your feet will be noticeably softer and well-hydrated. 

You can even give your feet a gentle massage as you apply your moisturizer, which can help stretch the tendons and contribute to your foot's muscular health. 

Afterward, you can put on socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for at least an hour for better lotion absorption, especially if you have dry skin.

But don't put any moisturizer between your toes to prevent a fungal or bacterial infection. Remember, you want to keep that area dry.

7. Don't Perform DIY Surgery on Ingrown Nails

We all know that ingrown toenails are annoying and even downright painful, and it's tempting to do a little DIY surgery to get rid of them. However, this is dangerous. 

Many people dig out ingrown nails with nail clippers or use floss to "splint" the toenail. These home remedies create a wide opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin and develop into a nasty infection.

Go see your podiatrist instead. They are experts in all things feet and will safely get rid of your ingrown toenail in sanitary conditions. They can also prevent ingrown nails from regrowing and causing issues in the future.

Schedule Periodic Foot Exams and Invest in Advanced Foot Products

It's important to practice proper foot care. This includes wearing comfortable shoes, practicing good foot hygiene, and using the proper tools and creams.

You also want to visit your podiatrist for periodic foot exams to prevent the development of foot problems. They can also improve your foot health by performing procedures like ingrown toenail removal. These steps will ensure that your feet stay healthy and happy for many years.

Make sure you use products made for your feet. Here at The Toe Bro, we know how important it is for you to take care of your feet. That's why we provide high-quality advanced foot products to tackle and prevent a host of foot problems afflicting people today. Feel free to visit our website and add products to your routine today. You won't regret investing in your foot health.