A blister alone or a callus alone is usually annoying enough. Having a situation where both are present simultaneously is far from ideal.
This gets more complicated if you’re a runner and you need to fix the situation quickly. Regular training could wait a bit, but a running event won’t!
Here’s a full guide of how to treat a blister under a callus, in 5 simple steps.
Treating a Blister Under a Callus in 5 Simple Steps
Finding out that a blister has formed under a callus is annoying, but treatable. Here’s how.
Step 1: Make Sure It Is Really a Blister Under a Callus
Skin issues could be quite similar.
Mostly they have rough cracked skin, that’s also red and painful. The various types of corns and severe forms of athlete’s foot often present in a form that’s similar to having a blister under a callus.
Close inspection could be sufficient, and when in doubt, ask your doctor.
Step 2: Decrease the Thickness of the Callus
The blister is the main source of the pain. It’s also a vulnerable spot that could get infected.
That’s why it’s necessary to reach it and deal with it. The problem is that the callused thick skin layer is blocking the way.
Filing the callus would be quite painful because of the underlying blister. Alternatively, salicylic acid could be used. There are several over-the-counter products, but it’s best to use it under medical supervision.
This should thin down the callus layer, but it takes a few days to do so.
Step 3: Make Sure the Blister Area Remains Clean
During the time you’re waiting for the callused skin to wear off, make sure that bacteria can’t reach the blister.
Wash the blister area daily with soap and water, and dry it thoroughly with a clean towel.
- Prevent blisters from forming: a soft gel pad prevents direct friction between the foot and the shoe, alleviates the pain of new shoes grinding the foot or walking for long periods, and prevents blisters.
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Step 4: Treat the Blister
Now that the callused skin is gone, the blister becomes reachable. Draining the blister often relieves the pain, that’s why lots of people resort to that. It’s also a quick fix if the runner needs to compete right away.
If the blister has a murky or bloody fluid, seek medical attention right away.
If you decide to drain the blister, use sterilized scissors. Sanitize the whole area and it’s best to wear sterile gloves as you pop it. At least, wash your hands with alcohol or betadine.
Leaving the blister undrained is considered the better course of action, as it keeps the growing skin layer protected until it’s ready to be exposed to the elements.
Step 5: Keep it Clean
To minimize the possibility of infection or inflammation, apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment on the blister, then cover it up.
Using a suitable blister patch should be sufficient. Mostly, runners can resume their participation in sports events. Another option is to pick up a pair of quality blister preventing socks, like these.
How a Blister Under a Callus Forms
Prevention is always better than looking for a cure, so let’s take a closer look at how a blister forms under a callus, and make sure to minimize the possibilities.
Calluses and Blisters have a common initiator, which is friction. But they work in different ways on the skin according to severity of the frictional forces, and whether they are repeated or occasional.
How Is a Callus Formed?
A callus is a rough and thick layer, that’s formed when a part of the skin endures low-intensity friction, repeated over a long period of time. Wearing a particular pair of shoes with the same type of socks could cause a callus.
Creating pressure points could also lead to the formation of a callus. If a small spot of the foot is graced with excessive friction with the sole or heel of the shoe, it would often develop ‘thicker skin’.
Ballet dancers are a case-in-point when it comes to pressure areas.
This is also true for people who rest their elbows on the desk as they use the keyboard. They often get dark thick skin in that area.
Using certain tools could lead to callus formation, especially if it has to be used daily. Back in the day, kids had calluses on their fingers because of excessive repeated writing with a pen. This is not the case nowadays, as keyboard usage replaced writing.
Irregularities in the feet could also create automatic pressure points. Bunions are more prone to getting calloused because of their protrusion.
Runners are known to develop calluses because of their constant movement.
It gets worse with shoes that don’t fit too well, using the wrong type of socks. Also, with moving their feet in ways that concentrate pressure on specific points.
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A callus can be filed with emery paper or washed frequently with a pumice stone. Applying moisturizing cream or vaseline after this cleanup is highly recommended. This should be repeated until the skin regains it natural look and feel.
How Is a Blister Formed?
A blister is a sac filled with a transparent fluid that suddenly appears on the skin. It’s often painful and inflamed. Mostly the fluid inside it is clear, but occasionally, it gets a murky or bloody appearance.
Blisters form after subjecting the skin to extreme friction. In an attempt to protect itself, the outer skin layer separates from the inner skin layer, forcing some fluid in between. This is often painful at the outset but heals in a few days.
Here are some of the factors that could contribute to the formation of blisters:
- High friction is more than one direction.
- Ill-fitting shoes whether too small or too large.
- Wearing cotton socks instead of moisture-wicking ones.
- Hot weather or wearing badly ventilated footwear.
- Running without gaiters in roads with dirt and grit.
- Running uphill or on any rough terrains.
- Focusing pressure on specific points.
Complications could happen, like getting injured in the spot of a blister, an infection seeps in the vulnerable spot of the blister, or it gets ruptured too soon leaving raw sensitive skin.
That’s why it’s important to keep a blister clean and protect it with an appropriate covering.
Another complication is getting a blister under a callus. This makes reaching the blister much harder, and its healing could take more time.
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How Does the Blister Form Under a Callus?
A callus is often formed where there is constant friction, and if that friction exceeds the usual limits, a blister is formed.
This scenario looks a lot like the difference between regular training days, and the day of the big run.
At the end of a race, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to find a blister under a callus.
Sometimes, runners find that they need to deal with that deep-blister situation to finish the run, or resume the next day’s events.
What Are the Ways to Keep a Blister Safe and Clean?
Here are some simple steps you can do to ensure quick and easy healing of a blister. You might need to stock up on a few materials like a sterilization/sanitization solution, antibacterial ointment, blister patches, and anti-inflammatory cream.
- Clean the area with soap and water.
- Dry it softly with a clean towel
- Use betadine to sterilize the blister and the parts around it.
- If you have to drain the blister, do so with sterilized scissors.
- Apply a thin layer of antibacterial cream on the blister.
- Cover the blister with blister patches.
- For a larger blister, use a piece of gauze and tape to keep it in place.
- Repeat the cleaning routine and change the blister covering every day.
- Keep the area dry and clean.
- Change your socks as soon as they become sweaty or dirty.
- In case the blister gets red and infected, visit your doctor right away.
- After a few hours, apply some zinc-oxide cream.
- Use powder to reduce the humidity of the foot.
- Use a couple of moisture-wicking socks.
- Choose the right size and shape of footwear.
A Few More Things
In all things, an ounce of prevention is better than any amount of cure. Make the right choices early on when it comes to footwear. When you see callused skin, file it away. And if the road is too rough, wear gaiters. It’s always the little things!
Hi, Jeremy Here,
I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journey. About Me.
Last update on 2023-01-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API