Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Blisters on the foot are quite common. They occur for many different reasons. The most common cause is friction. If high level friction is applied against the skin for a short period, the result is a blister. If a low level of friction is applied for a long period, the result is a callus. The callus can help protect that area from blistering if the friction is suddenly increased.
Friction blisters can be filled with clear fluid, blood, or a combination of both.
Friction blisters in my opinion (opinions vary) should generally not be popped unless they are causing quite a bit of pain and pain relief is needed. I prefer not to pop them since the barrier of the skin is still in intact, in a sense, to help prevent infection from entering. Sometimes just covering the area with a dry dressing can protect it enough to control the pain. Some of the over the counter specialized blister dressings made of a gummy type of adhesive pad are also very good. The body will eventually resorb the blister fluid. The roof of the blister will dry up and flake off. By the time the blister dries on its own, the eroded skin in the base of the blister should be healed enough to prevent infection from entering.
If you need to pop your blister for relief, here are some tips. Cleanse the area with alcohol or freshly wash the area with soap and water. Other OTC (over the counter) antiseptics like Betadine or Hibiclens are acceptable, but may be excessive. Use a flame sterilized needle or pin. Puncture the roof of the blister by entering near the edge of the blister. This way all the fluid can be squeezed out by milking the fluid out starting from the side opposite the puncture and working your way to the puncture site. Puncture the roof of the blister through its side by holding the needle parallel to the surrounding skin. Holding the needle in this direction will prevent you from poking your underlying skin if the needle is advanced too deeply into the blister. Once the fluid is drained then dress the area with topical antibiotic medication and a dressing until the area is healed.
If you have diabetes, loss of sensation in your feet, poor circulation, or a compromised immune system do not attempt this yourself. Seek professional care. Many people are squeamish about performing this on themselves or at home. We can always gladly help with this in the office. There are many other causes for blisters. If the cause of the blister(s) is unclear, or you have any of the above conditions, I highly recommend an office visit to address your blister(s).