Friction blisters refer to a split or cleavage that occurs within the top three levels of the epidermis namely, the stratum corneum, stratum lucidum and stratum granulosum.
An increase in frictional or shear forces consequently leads to the formation of a blister cleft which fills up with plasma-like fluid from the capillaries ultimately developing into a blister within the epidermis.
Risk factors that are normally associated with the formation of foot friction blisters include foot deformities, elevated moisture levels, a 4ºC rise in skin temperature and poorly fitting footwear.
Athletic activities can further aggravate the formation of foot blisters due to shear stresses being repeatedly exerted on the skin; this is more prevalent during marathon running which has a high incidence rate of frictional blisters.
The prevention and management of foot friction blisters is essential because of the restrictive impact it can have on mobility; it is common for patients to modify their gait patterns in order to reduce strain on the injured region.
This affects functioning of the lower limbs which can facilitate the development of secondary injuries during periods of extensive or intensive exercise.
According to a report by Fred Brennan Jr., the head team physician at the University of New Hampshire, blisters that are small in size (less than 5mm) can be managed conservatively by protecting the area from increased pressure.
Among some of the treatment options often recommended for frictional blisters are the use of socks made of acrylic/polyester fibres, application of a hydrocolloid, a solution of 20 percent aluminum choridehexahydrate and cushioned insoles.
MASS4D® foot orthotics can be customised to patient specifications in order to prevent ‘hot spots’ by promoting a healthy distribution of weight in the feet and absorbing much of the shear stress on the foot.
This would minimise pressure on the blister, helping to enforce normal foot biomechanics during the recovery phase while protecting the individual from developing any secondary injuries related to compensatory movements of the body.
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Repetitive plantarflexion can lead to pain and mechanical limitation in the posterior ankle joint which is known as posterior ankle impingement syndrome. This pathology commonly occurs in ballet dancers and football players.