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It can be very frustrating when a person finally buys that pair of shoes they have been wanting for a while, and then, the first night, those shoes give them awful, and painful heel blisters.

What are blisters and how do they occur?

Blisters are essentially bubbles of fluid formed under the skin. Even though they seem like a problem and cause so much pain and discomfort, their role is actually to protect the skin for more severe damage. When a tight shoe starts to press heavily against the skin or to rub against it repeatedly, a blister is formed as a natural defense.

Most blisters are completely harmless and go away after a few days. However, some blisters can become infected and may require medical attention. Because of their location, at the bottom or on the back of the heel, they are prone to irritation and infection, especially if they burst.

How to treat blisters

Ideally, it would be best to avoid wearing footwear completely when a blister occurs. It is not always possible, so it is recommended to at least wear open heeled shoes or sandals so the blister is not exposed to further irritation.

A blister should never be popped, even if it is bulging with fluid. It protects the wound from infection and the liquid inside is working on healing it faster. A blister will eventually pop by itself but even then the skin should not be pulled or cut.

The area around the blister should be thoroughly cleaned, first with an antibacterial soap and then with rubbing alcohol or peroxide. Peroxide might be better because it does not sting as much as alcohol and it boils out the germs from the blister.

After cleansing the blister, it should be left to dry and then it is recommended to apply an over-the-counter antibacterial ointment.

A blister should be left to breathe as much as possible, especially at home and in other hygienic environments. When going out, the blister should be covered with gauze attached with a band aid. Shoes should be with open heels, but if it is not possible, for example if it is cold, the blister should be protected with a soft gauze or cotton pad against friction.

There is always a possibility of infection of the blister. The signs of an infection can include redness, pain, blood and/or puss, fever and nausea. Blister infections require medical assessment and treatment by a professional.

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