Fact Checked

What Is a Friction Blister?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke

A blister is a puffy area often filled with clear fluid that may develop on the topmost layer of the skin. These types of small pockets can be caused by exposure to extreme temperatures, chemicals, or infections, but the most common source tends to be repeated pressure or rubbing that results in a friction blister. Although friction blisters can be painful and prone to infection if not treated properly, they may be prevented by taking measures to add a barrier around the skin in order to lessen friction.

A friction blister develops after repeated pressure or rubbing against an area of skin begins to cause irritation to the top layer of skin. The skin forms a pocket of clear fluid above the skin as a protective mechanism to prevent additional irritation while new skin forms beneath it. As the skin heals, the blister begins to slowly dry out. Early symptoms of friction blisters include pain, puffiness, and redness, until eventually the pocket of clear fluid itself forms.

A friction blister.
A friction blister.

There are a variety of possible situations that may cause a friction blister to form. These types of blisters tend to develop most often on the feet and hands, two parts of the body that are often the most prone to performing activities involving friction. Improperly fitting shoes are one of the most common causes of friction blisters on the feet, either due to excessive pressure from shoes that are too tight or overly loose shoes that cause the shoe to move repeatedly over the areas of the foot when walking. If the blisters occur on the hands, it is generally the result of gripping an item or repeating a motion numerous times, such as a carpenter or construction worker holding and operating tools. Athletes, such as baseball players or golfers, are also often at a higher risk of friction blisters on the hands from tightly gripping their athletic equipment.

Firmly gripping athletic equipment may cause friction blisters on the hands.
Firmly gripping athletic equipment may cause friction blisters on the hands.

A friction blister will generally heal on its own and not require any treatment if care is taken to prevent additional friction, such as wearing socks and properly fitting shoes for foot blisters, or bandaging or wearing protective gloves over blistered areas when performing activities with the hands. Keeping the blister clean and not draining the fluid may also help it heal, usually within a week. If the blister is pierced to remove the fluid, it may be at a higher risk of becoming infected. Signs of infection include fluid that is green or yellow, itchiness or increased swelling or redness, and fever. Infection will typically require medical attention to prevent further complications.

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Discussion Comments


Friction blisters on the feet are the worst because it becomes so difficult to wear shoes until they heal. The shoe that caused the blister cannot be worn for one because it applies pressure right where the blister is. It can make the blister pop. So aside from awful pain, it increases the risk of infection too.

When I have a friction blister on my toe or other part of my foot, I put a bandage on it. I wear comfortable gym shoes with nice thick cotton socks. This is all I can wear until the blister has healed and scabbed over. And if the blister pops, I apply antibiotic ointment on it just to be on the safe side.


@SteamLouis-- Friction blisters on other parts of the body are not as common but they do occur. It can be due to friction from tight clothing or even friction from skin. In areas where skin overlaps such as the armpits, thighs and under the breasts are especially vulnerable to blisters from friction. Sweating can make it more likely too.

Just leave it alone and it will go away. Don't wear tight clothing or clothing made of uncomfortable materials. Soft, cotton clothing is best.


I have a blister on my stomach. I think it might be due to the friction from my jeans but I'm not sure. I've heard of friction blisters on the feet and even the hands, but is it possible to get them elsewhere too? I think it'll go away on its own. I've just never had one before so it's strange to me.

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    • A friction blister.
      By: Rob Byron
      A friction blister.
    • Firmly gripping athletic equipment may cause friction blisters on the hands.
      By: leschnyhan
      Firmly gripping athletic equipment may cause friction blisters on the hands.