Key Blister Causes and Risk Factors for Blisters

5 min read
Key Blister Causes and Risk Factors for Blisters Key Blister Causes and Risk Factors for Blisters Key Blister Causes and Risk Factors for Blisters

There’s nothing like a blister to turn what should be a glorious day out into a long and painful ordeal. Whether they’re on your heel, toes, ankles or the underside of your foot, these small pockets of fluid can be sore enough to ruin any outdoor experience.

What many people don’t realise, though, is that there are all sorts of different blister causes that impact how susceptible you are to getting one.

Learning about the risk factors of blisters should give you a better understanding of why you get them and, with any luck, help you take action to prevent them from occurring in the first place! Sound good?

Read on for a comprehensive look at blisters and the reasons they develop.

The Different Types of Blisters on Feet

Contrary to what some people think, these pesky fluid pockets come in a variety of forms. Here is a brief rundown of the most common blisters you could encounter.

Friction Blisters

Friction blisters are what most people think about when they hear the word “blister”. More often than not, you get them on your feet or hands from, as the name implies, friction between the skin and something you’re wearing or holding.

Imagine going for a run with new shoes – over time, any continual or intense rubbing is likely to cause blisters. It’s even more likely if the shoes are tight, your socks are loose, or if you’re sweating a lot throughout the activity. Each of these factors increases the chance of rubbing, which, in turn, boosts the potential for blistering1.

Heat and Humidity Blisters

Friction blisters aren’t the only form of blister that people suffer from. Heat and humidity blisters are two others that tend to appear alongside friction blisters. Heat blisters form as a result of heat exposure2. When someone gets burned, the skin forms a blister over the affected area in an attempt to let it heal.

Blood Blisters

Blood blisters either form in the same way friction ones do, or when something pinches the skin3. Broken blood vessels cause blood to enter the blister alongside the usual clear fluid. It’s also worth noting that some health conditions result in blistering and/or make people more prone to it.

Key Risk Factors for Blisters

We know that pressure and rubbing are primary friction blister causes. But there are a number of other important risk factors that could be impacting how susceptible you are to blistering on your feet.

Skin Type and Characteristics

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the thinner skin elsewhere on your body would be most prone to blisters. Yet the evidence says otherwise4. Individuals with thick skin (on the soles of your feet in particular) are more likely to experience blistering.

Foot Structure

Foot abnormalities and deformities have an impact as well5. For example, someone with flat feet or a high arch will get more blisters than someone with “normal” feet. Even people with a history of foot injury have been shown to suffer more in this way.


As mentioned previously, having moist feet is a recipe for trouble when it comes to blisters. Why? Because it increases the risk of friction4.  If you tend to get sweaty feet, it’s worth wearing moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes to help keep them nice and dry.


Overweight individuals may get more blisters too6. Evidence varies, but the feet of heavier-set people could be wider and flatter due to the extra weight they’re carrying. Combine that with other blister-forming factors, and the risk of blisters occurring increases.

Past Blisters

Our final risk factor for blisters comes down to past experience7. Unfortunately, studies suggest that your likelihood of getting them is higher if you’ve had them before. That, if you ask us, is as good a reason as any to protect your feet in advance by using Compeed’s various blister-defying products.

Don’t Forget These Blister Causes

We can all agree that getting a blister is never fun – especially when you’re trying to enjoy a hike, a run, or any other day out in the great outdoors. Thankfully, learning more about blister causes and risk factors is an invaluable way to prevent them.

With any luck, the insights in this article will help in that regard. Keep them in mind and you should be one step closer to avoiding the pain and discomfort of blisters on your feet. And don’t forget to take particular care of a blister that has worsened by infection, as it may require treatment from a healthcare professional.

A final note, if a blister forms on a person who is diabetic, pregnant or a child, seek medical advice before treatment, regardless of the size or occurrence of the blister.

Looking for more information and advice on the topic? Browse useful tips on our website now.



Winchester Hospital. Health Library: Blisters.


Cleveland Clinic. Blood Blisters.


NHS Inform. Blisters.


Knapik JJ, Reynolds KL, Duplantis KL, Jones BH. Friction blisters. Pathophysiology, prevention and treatment. Sports Med, (1995), 20(3). 136-47. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199520030-00002.


Silver, N. Recognizing and Treating Common Foot Problems. Healthline. (2017).


Fort Worth Podiatry. Certain Foot Conditions May Be Linked to Obesity. (2020) (n.d.).


Patterson, H. S., Woolley, T. W., & Lednar, W. M. Foot Blister Risk Factors in an ROTC Summer Camp Population. Military Medicine, (1994), 159(2). 130–135. 0026-4075.