Friction blisters are small pockets of fluid that form on the surface of the skin. This occurs as a result of frictions that form when something rubs against your skin.
Generally, friction blisters usually heal on their own if left to heal, but some actions like peeling off the skin on your blisters can make it difficult for them to heal.
In this article, we discuss the causes of your friction blisters, how to know if they are infected, and also possible treatments.
But before we move on to that, what exactly are friction blisters?
What Is A Friction Blister?
Friction blisters are tiny fluid-like bubbles that form on the outer layer of the skin as a result of friction.
It happens when friction causes the outermost layer of the skin to separate from the layers beneath.
Typically, they appear due to the constant rubbing of objects, like shoes or wrongly fitted clothes on some areas of the skin.
When this happens, the skin becomes charred, flushed, and hot, and the affected area might sting.
As a result, fluids fill up the spaces between those layers as a response to cushion and protect the layers beneath.
Friction blisters mostly appear on parts of the skin where the layer is thickest, like the heels, and toes, and they could also appear on the hands, including the fingers.
Friction blisters can happen in anyone, and everyone, and its exacerbating factors include:
- Heat: heat can aggravate your friction blisters, especially during hot and humid weather.
- Prolonged or vigorous exercises and heavy weight lifting
- Tight and uncomfortable shoes.
- Rough and hard fabrics
- Wearing wrongly fitted clothes and footwear
- Using or wearing tools or fabrics that are rough or hard
How Long Do Friction Blisters Take To Heal?
Typically, your friction blisters are meant to heal on their own within 1 to 2 weeks.
New skin will form underneath the fluid-filled bubbles, and the liquid will get absorbed gradually.
The purpose of the fluid inside your blister is to keep the layers beneath clean and free from infection and thereby fasten your healing process.
If your blisters are small and not particularly painful, they will heal in a few days with the aid of a bandage and optimum care.
Over time, the fluid will dry up, and new layers of skin will form.
However, if your friction blisters are large and very painful, they could take weeks to heal and need more medical attention.
Are Friction Blisters Itchy?
Friction blisters are mostly accompanied by a few symptoms, which include pains and itchiness.
The fluid pocket is usually painful to touch, so most individuals are advised to refrain from touching their blisters.
Scratching your blisters would only aggravate the condition and delay your healing process.
How Do You Know If A Friction Blister Is Infected?
Exposing the surface of your blister by popping can lead to the invasion of bacteria and other infections.
As we’ve earlier mentioned, the purpose of the fluid is to protect the layers beneath and help you heal faster; popping your blisters drains the fluid, opening up the surface of your wound.
Blisters may break open if they encounter constant friction or they get popped at their healing stage.
How would you know if your blisters are infected? Some of the visible symptoms include:
- Increased pains that don’t get any better
- Worsened redness around the blisters
- Swelling and yellowish crusting around the area
- A cloudy fluid that is beginning to look like pus
- Tenderness in the area
Possible Complications That Could Occur From Friction Blisters
Infected blisters, if left untreated, can lead to a lot of difficulties.
The infection will not only affect the blisters but will also get into the bloodstream, potentially causing more damage to the body.
This can lead to severe health conditions like:
Cellulitis is a common infection that happens when germs and some bacteria get into the deep layers of the skin, affecting the tissue underneath.
The main symptoms of cellulitis are similar to those of an infected blister. Skin becomes red, swollen, and painful around the affected areas.
If left untreated, the symptoms could progress to poor circulation and weakening of the immune system.
This involves the circulation of bacteria in the blood.
It happens when an infection in one part of the body begins to spread into tissues, and ultimately, into the bloodstream.
Symptoms of bacteremia include shaking, chills, rapid heart rate, reduction in blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that happens when germs and bacteria invade the bloodstream.
When this happens, the body uses inflammation as its natural defense.
As the body tries to fight against these bacteria, the changes in blood flow might cause some life-threatening organ dysfunction.
Signs and symptoms that an infection has invaded your bloodstream include:
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
How To Get Rid Of Friction Blisters Fast
One of the best ways to get rid of your blisters is to leave them to heal independently.
Most blisters heal independently after a few days; the fluids dry up, and new layers of skin are formed.
Peeling your blisters will interfere with the healing time and increase your chance of developing an infection.
At the same time, you’re trying to keep your blisters in the best taste possible. You would need to provide some extra care to protect it.
Here are some things you can do to protect your blisters and prevent them from popping:
Avoiding Removing The Roof Of The Skin
Removing the roof of the skin will expose your blisters to infections. Avoid pulling the top of the skin because it helps protect the layers of skin underneath.
Cover It Up
Keeping your blisters covered is one of the first steps to keeping them in the best state possible.
Apply petroleum jelly, cover it with a bandage or light piece of clothing, and secure it with tape.
Avoid Putting Pressure On It
You should avoid putting pressure on your friction blisters as much as possible, as this can peel off the skin layers at the top, exposing you to germs and bacteria.
This means you should avoid wearing tight and uncomfortable shoes, and engaging in complicated exercises and activities that can toughen up your blisters.
Sometimes, protecting your blisters alone is not enough to make them go away; here are practical remedies that can help you get rid of your friction blisters:
Some natural remedies can help friction blisters heal faster and also relieve your pains.
Aloe Vera can be used in your friction blisters, as it contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve wound healing.
Apply a thin layer of aloe Vera to your friction blisters two or three times daily to help relieve your pains.
Petroleum jelly, Eucalyptus oil, Tea tree oil, and all-natural substances are used to improve wound healing and make your friction blisters heal faster.
They contain antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties.
Taking Care Of Your Drained Friction Blisters
If your blisters get drained, you can also take care of them by following the steps below:
- Wash your hands and the blisters: wash your hands with soap and water, gently clean the popped blister and allow the fluid to drain out.
- Cover the surface of blisters with an ointment such as petroleum jelly to hasten the healing process.
- Apply neat dressing: After you might have applied the ointment, cover the blisters tightly with a bandage or gauze.
- Repeat the process; constantly change the gauze and bandage on your blisters, and apply ointments to them daily.
Remember to reach out to your physician if your blisters get infected. An infected friction blister should not be treated at home.
A medical practitioner best attends to them. Call your physician if your blisters show any indication of an infection.
Although friction blisters are common complaints, they are not always so complicated as long as you give your blisters optimum care and protect them from infection.
It should heal in one to two weeks. Lastly, remember to talk to your physician for further medical care if your friction blisters appear infected.
Healthline: How to Get Rid of a Blister
MedicalNewsToday: What to know about friction blisters
Drugs.com: Friction Blisters