When is a Blister Not Just a Blister? When Should You See Your Doctor?

Yes, sometimes we look down and we have a blister on our toes, and I, like most of the population, am a little annoyed that my new shoes caused a blister on my feet. When I was younger and before I went to medical school, I wasn't aware, however, that a blister on my feet can mean much more than "I really love those shoes but I can't wear them anymore!"

Before I explain the complications that can arise from blisters and cuts on our feet, it is important to note that shoes are only one of many things that can cause these skin injuries to occur. In addition to shoes, hot sand, radiators, extreme cold, and walking barefoot are also common causes that may lead to foot wounds. Furthermore, patients that suffer from neuropathy, or numbness, in the lower extremity, are also more likely to suffer from injury to the soft tissue in their feet.

Now that I have reviewed several common causes of foot wounds, let’s talk about why it is important to prevent these wounds from occurring and the serious complications that can occur. Lets first talk about prevention! PREVENTION is key! In every population, and in particular in individuals suffering from neuropathy, I recommend checking the soles of your feet daily; this can be done with the aid of a mirror.

In addition, I also recommend my patients wear white socks, not black. This is because bleeding and drainage are clearly visible on a white sock.  Shoes are also important in preventing ulcerations in our feet. Soft, well fitting shoes that offload areas of pressure in our feet are a mainstay in preventing diabetic ulcerations. In addition to environmental factors, nutrition is important in helping prevent ulcerations. A healthy diet, that is low in sugar and has adequate intake of fluids, is important in both prevention and healing of foot wounds.

Lastly, it is important to note that blisters and cuts on the feet can quickly become problematic. I see patients daily in our office with chronic wounds, cellulitis (skin infections) and amputations. Most of the time, these conditions all arise from what many have described as a small blister. Therefore, remember, no blister, or cut on your foot is too small to ignore. Monitor these wounds closely and call your doctor ASAP if you are in pain, have redness in the area, see discharge, experience increased warmth in the area and most importantly if your wound does not heal within one week.

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