If you must pop, podiatrist Christopher R. Hood Jr., D.P.M., a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, recommends first cleaning the area with antiseptic and using a sterile instrument to drain the fluid. (Again, anyone whose immune system is compromised should skip popping on their own, and instead loop in their doc. Same if the blister looks infected.)
“One hint when deciding where to place the hole in the blister is to perform this at the ‘bottom,’ or lowest part, of the blister so that gravity will allow it to continue to drain,” says Dr. Hood. “For example, if you have a blister on the back of your heel, place the hole at the six o’clock position so that while you’re standing all day the fluid will run and exit the bottom, versus placing it at the twelve o’clock position, where it would not be able to drain and the fluid would re-collect in the bottom portion.”
Dab on a little antibiotic cream like Neosporin to avoid infection, and then cover the blister on your foot with a bandage. If you notice signs of infection, like if the area becomes red, hot, or swollen, or if you see pus, call your doctor or podiatrist, Dr. Hood says.
If all that sounds gross/like a hassle, here’s how to prevent them in the first place.
“The best way to prevent blisters is to take steps to stop any rubbing or friction from converting an area of irritation to a full-blown blister,” says Dr. Hood. These 10 tips to keep blisters at bay can get you started.
1. Stop running in cotton socks.
Cotton socks may feel soft and comfy, but they may also be the perfect breeding ground for blisters on your feet.
“One-hundred percent cotton socks are not the best, as they absorb sweat and stay moist, thus increasing swelling and friction,” says Dr. Smith. “A material that wicks sweat from the skin through the sock is best.” This includes materials or blends of materials like merino wool, polyester, nylon, spandex, and Teflon.
In fact, socks made of merino are particularly good choices for those who run in cold weather, since along with their wicking ability, they will also help keep your feet warm, says Dr. Hood.
2. Keep moisture out.
Even if you switch to moisture-wicking socks, your feet still can get too damp if you’re a heavy sweater. That moisture, of course, can lead to the friction that can trigger a blister.
One way to cut down on that is by sprinkling some powder on your feet before you put on your socks to eliminate that moisture.
“Keep skin dry by using baby powder or antifungal powder (like Zeasorb, $18, amazon.com) to decrease moisture that causes rubbing,” says Dr. Hood.