This is a MUCH bigger deal than it normally would be...
May 6, 2013 5:18 AM   Subscribe

I managed to majorly blister the back of both of my heels this weekend. Both heels have quarter/loonie sized blisters. I need them to heal AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE because in four days I am going on a trip that cannot be rescheduled, and one of the main purposes of the trip is to try on and buy shoes for my wedding.

First golf game of the year on sunday, new pair of shoes... legendary blisters. There is no question of popping them because they popped themselves and the skin is pretty well totally gone. This would be just an annoyance except that I am going on a special trip in four days, leaving friday morning, and one of the two main reasons for the trip is to find some shoes to wear at my wedding. My feet are very very difficult to fit so this special trip really is necessary.

So what do I do? How can I get these enormous blisters to heal? Right now I am keeping them uncovered and open to the air, wearing backless sandals, and I was planning on doing that every day. Is that the best way or should I been bandaiding these bastards? They are too big to be able to be covered by any normal bandaid.

If they can't heal in that time (which I appreciate is pretty likely) what can I do to allow me to try on shoes? Keep in mind the shoes I am going to be trying on are likely to be pumps, I intend to wear them barefoot, and they are going to be hitting right at where the blisters are! Obvious solution would be to bandaid the crap out of them and cushion them with gauze or something similar. However, if I pad the blisters too much I am worried I won't get a proper read and won't know if they shoes truly fit.

And just to reiterate, the trip cannot be rescheduled, nor will I have another chance to do this before the wedding. A lot of schedule adjusting and planning and days taken off work etc. has been done to have this weekend happen.

I know this is all a silly issue, but I'm fairly upset over this. We're having a really simple wedding, my mom is making my dress, my bouquet is going to be picked from my dad's garden, I'm doing my own hair and makeup, everything is very modest and simple. My shoes were the only thing that I was going to splurge on, my only decadent thing fancy thing for my wedding.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I feel your pain- I go through this every spring when I transition out of boots/ heavy shoes. I normally can't stand to wear a band aid, but I find Band Aid Activ-Flex bandages are a lifesaver. After you put them on, they form a gel pad around the wound which is very soothing and aids healing. This should allow you to wear shoes without any pain. I imagine it won't cause any unnecessary bulk when you try on shoes. Good luck!
posted by Neeuq Nus at 5:27 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Keep them dry as best as possible. If the blister itself is gone, you're basically working with super fresh and cranky skin, so keep it dry and covered for now. When it comes time to try on shoes, use the blister stick stuff to create a frictionless surface without the bulk. Good luck!
posted by skittlekicks at 5:27 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: Those hydrocolloid gel blister plasters are amazing. They're not all created equal, you want ones that are a thick gel layer and meant to be left on for a long amount of time. I'm currently using these Compeed ones. I didn't like the Scholl ones at all. I think I've used, and liked, Band Aid ones too.

You put them right on to the broken skin and they stay in place until it's all healed again, absorbing the weeping etc as well. The best part is that they're smooth and solid, so even if your blisters aren't healed you'll still be able to try on strappy shoes over them.

Normal plasters and gauze etc is going to make a big lump with catchy edges, they'll get peeled off easily and will rip up your skin even more. Seriously, these things are great.
posted by shelleycat at 5:28 AM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Obvious solution would be to bandaid the crap out of them and cushion them with gauze or something similar.

Polyskin Transparent dressing.
posted by three blind mice at 5:30 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: Try those gel/skin-like blister band-aids! I had good luck with them, tried a different brand though. You'll barely feel them, they are waterproof and work for trying on shoes. Good luck!
posted by travelwithcats at 5:30 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: keep it dry and covered for now

Those seem mutually exclusive to me. "Covered" I understand as bandaids and the like, and those always seem to make things sorta moist.

I will look for the hydrocolloid bandages.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:30 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: Actually, I've also used the Activ-Flex ones that Neeuq Nus is referring too and they're also great. Note that this type of bandage is kind of expensive, but you'll only need one per heel and it should stick until they're healed, so it works out OK. You'll probably need the bigger size.
posted by shelleycat at 5:30 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, I had the Compeed ones shelleycat linked to!
posted by travelwithcats at 5:32 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree that the hydrocolloid bandages are awesome. They seem to make minor skin injuries heal faster (though it's possible that is because they keep me from picking at them).

Even with them, I doubt your feet will heal fully in time, but I bet you will be able to comfortably try on shoes with a hydrocolloid bandage covering the open blister wound. They're thin enough that they shouldn't affect the fit of your shoes.

And, if you end up with shoes that rub a bit at your heels, and you're a white person who is close to the color of the bandage, you could wear them on your heels on your wedding day - they are almost invisible on my skin tone. I had one on a very visible spot on my body for a couple days, and my fiancee did not notice it until I pointed it out.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

People have also been recommending this Band-Aid Active Friction Block Stick here on metafilter - this supposedly helps to prevent blisters.

This thread might help:
posted by travelwithcats at 5:44 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: Hydrocolloid dressings are a marvel of the modern age, etc. Yes.

Once things have stopped oozing you might want to try a 3M Tegaderm film dressing. They're very thin sheets of a plasticky material that inexplicably breathes and -- wait, here's the product info:

"Breathable film allows moisture vapor and oxygen exchange.
For I.V. sites, water vapor and oxygen are easily exchanged to permit normal functioning of the skin.
Provides a moist environment for enhanced wound healing, as viscous wound exudate is more slowly evaporated through the breathable film.
Unique, thin film conforms to the body and flexes with the skin for greater patient comfort."

And it stays put! Go up to the counter and ask the pharmacist for them; here, at least, they can be hard to find on the shelf. They come in a few sizes (much larger than normal bandages), and can be cut down to just what you need.

("Moist" wound care is supposed to result in quicker healing; here is a sloppy page on that)
posted by kmennie at 6:04 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: n-thing Compeed. They saved me when I got a bad blister during a multi-day hike. They really work great if you leave them on until they start to fall off by themselves.
posted by amf at 6:11 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: I've also used the Band-Aid blister bandages, and they work fine.

Incidentally, I've had even larger blisters (as in, entire heel or entire ball of foot...arrrgh) and they healed up within a week, albeit with some cracking/peeling skin for a while. You may be pleasantly surprised.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:19 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love, love, love the Spenco 2nd Skin gel squares, which you put on over the blistered area and then tape up with bandaids, moleskin, or sports tape. I've used them to get through rugby games, 10 mile races, and various practices without any issues. They're very slim and very easy to tape over. They don't last as long as the hydrocolloid ones and they do need to be replaced, but they're very soothing. I also really like the very large band-aids and the ones with tabs on the sides for fingers. Although the pad isn't large enough on its own for larger blisters, I find that two of those work well and that they put longer than the smaller, normally-shaped ones.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:36 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Surprised nobody has mentioned New Skin Liquid Bandages or their like (pretty sure this completely different than hydrocolloids; New Skin sprays or brushes on.) I've used it for nasty abrasions and heel blisters. Pretty much magic, and zero bulk if sizing is going to be important to you.
posted by jeffjon at 8:08 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You should be able to put one large hydrocolloid bandage over each blister then leave it in place until everything is fully healed. It won't budge even with abuse (I have one on my heel that's been there four days even though my orthotics rub right there), the edges are tapered and smooth so trying on any kind of shoes is not a problem, it will keep the wound appropriately moist without being macerated, and will it will be water proof. You really don't need anything else.
posted by shelleycat at 8:10 AM on May 6, 2013

I've used liquid skin type stuff. It comes off when the wound weeps (which popped blisters totally do) and it provides no protection or padding from future scraping (so I can't wear shoes until the wound is healed). It's better than a standard plaster but not as good as the blister plasters I linked to above. I am really awful to my feet and get blisters a LOT which is why I've tried everything.
posted by shelleycat at 8:16 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something I found that works great is (oh damn, I'm so sorry, I'm not positive about the name) that Blistex stick stuff. It looks like a little tiny thing of solid deoderant, but it's some kind of protectant/sealant stuff that you roll on over the blistered part. For me, it totally took the pain away to the point where I didn't need a bandaid over top and it healed amazingly fast! It is now my go-to fix for blisters on the heels.
posted by Eicats at 8:39 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: In fact, I'd buy a few extra boxes of whatever solution you end up using to wear shoe shopping and wear them on the day of the wedding if not too unsightly. It can prevent blisters from happening too, and the size would be just as expected.
posted by fontophilic at 9:15 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

If they don't heal by the time of the fitting, you can duct tape your heels for the shoe fitting. This way it will be a very thin layer, not bulky padding, so the fitting should be fairly accurate.
posted by valeries at 9:24 AM on May 6, 2013

Polysporin/Neosporin and bandaid, change every 5 hours or so. Clears it up.
posted by rhythm_queen at 10:13 AM on May 6, 2013

Response by poster: I got some hydrocolloid bandages. These things are effing weird but my heels aren't hurting anymore. The bottom edge of the bandages weren't sticking to my skin very well so I pinned down the edge with a normal sticky fabric bandaid and that seems to have worked. I had to do one heel twice because the first time I got it all bunched up and stuff. Peeling it off wasn't fun, but now that I have one on my heel everything is hunky dorie and pretty much pain free. Magic!

Thanks for the tips, everyone!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:28 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

If they don't heal by the time of the fitting, you can duct tape your heels for the shoe fitting. This way it will be a very thin layer, not bulky padding, so the fitting should be fairly accurate.

Be careful with this. The tape is likely going to do a number on your wounded heels when you take if off. At a minimum, have a non-sticky layer between the blister area and the tape. Moleskin blister pads are a safer alternative to duct tape generally.
posted by zachlipton at 11:32 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, I've never personally used the stuff, and am explicitly not recommending it because I lack the experience to do so, but I know that some people swear by tincture of benzoin before taping/covering blisters.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 AM on May 6, 2013

Moleskin. We used to use it in the Army when you had to move long distances with bad blisters.
posted by corb at 2:06 PM on May 6, 2013

i love the hydrocolloid bandages.

i rip my hands a lot (do crossfit and rock climb) and my "secret" is preperation-h, at night. heals up in two days.
posted by thatgirld at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I have blisters I drain them before taping/covering. Heals quicker and with the bulge of the blister gone it's much easier to move and get into shoes without tearing the blister open.

I take a sowing needle and some thread. I thread the needle first and then disinfect it all by submerging the needle with the entire thread into a bowl of rubbing alcohol. Disinfecting needle and thread is VERY important!

Next I carefully put the needle through the blister... one entry point, one exit point, pulling one end of the thread into the blister and then back out. Don't pull the string through... leave it in so its other end still hangs out of the entry point.

Piercing the skin of the blister does not hurt though you may feel a burn inside once the rubbing alcohol soaked thread makes contact with the inside. Remove the needle from the thread. At this point the thread should be going through the blister with one end each hanging out of the in and out punctures you made.

The clear fluid from the blister will drain along the thread ends quite easily. Sometimes I VERY carefully massage the blister just a little bit. If you do that be VERY careful. If the blister tears open the exposed area will likely get inflamed or infected and heal much more slowly.

Once the blister is empty the outer skin will lie flat against the inside instead of forming a bubble. It won't re-attach and it'll peel off eventually but in the meantime it'll continue to protect the inside from infection while the healing process takes place. Anyhow, once the blister is empty slowly and carefully pull out the thread without tearing open the blister. This might burn just a little.

At this point tape or otherwise cover the blister. It's crucial to protect it from tearing open so it can properly heal.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:44 PM on May 6, 2013

Forgot to add: the draining generally seems to work best if the in and out points are somewhat further apart rather than right next to each other right in the middle of the blister. And it works better near the bottom of the blister for reasons of gravity.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:48 PM on May 6, 2013

On the day of your wedding, if your shoes are tight or rub and you want to avoid another blister but you don't want to have obvious band-aid or moleskin showing, you can use clear cellophane tape directly on your skin where the shoe rubs. I've used it for a few formal dress occasions and it works like a charm. Just don't use it over any existing wounds or sores.
posted by Brody's chum at 6:07 PM on May 6, 2013

If your heels haven't healed by the time you try on shoes, you can use spray bandage/liquid bandage and super sheer hose/footies on top (let the spray bandage dry fully before putting on hose/footies). Don't be fooled by the no-sting promises, though, it will sting. It will hurt. You may swear, cry, scream, or all three at once. But once it dries it will no longer hurt and you will be able to try on shoes.
posted by anaelith at 5:59 PM on May 7, 2013

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