Pointe shoes are shoes. Just like we get blisters from regular shoes, you can get blisters from pointe shoes as well. When I first started taking pointe, I frequently got blisters on the backs of my heels. Now that my skin has hardened in that area, I rarely get a blister from pointe shoes.
Blisters, while not always painful, are certainly irksome. You may have blisters that are large or small or even in clusters, depending on where your pointe shoes are irritating the skin. Common places of irritation are on the backs of the heels, on the toes, and on the toe joints.
Blisters are caused by increase rubbing of the skins against an object. If the skin rubs hard and often enough against that object, trauma will occur. The epidermis and dermis separate (gross, I know) and fluids seep into this gap. The fluid acts as a layer of protection for the skin underneath and remains as a cushioning agent until the skin has fully healed. Once healed, the fluid will be reabsorbed into the body and a scab will form and peel away to reveal the new skin.
The area surrounding the blister may become red and swollen, depending on how severe the blister is. The fluid within the blister is typically clear. If the fluid appears to be bloody, it is likely a sudden force caused the blister. Also, if the fluid is greenish or yellowish, the blister is probably infected. You may experience a fever as your body fights this infection.
It is best the leave blisters alone so they may heal properly. Apply an antibiotic on them and cover it with a soft bandage. To prevent blisters from occuring again, put petroleum jelly or talcum powder on the spots in your pointe shoes that are irritating you. If you do not wear toe pads and frequently get blisters on your toes or toe joints, it would be best to add these to your shoes. Applying bandaids or medical tape to the affected areas before class will also help prevent blisters. Moleskin is also used for treatment of blisters. Cut the moleskin to the appropriate size with a hole for the blister and place it on your skin and cover with a bandage.
Most blisters if they are small should be left alone and not popped. If a blister does pop then leave the flap of skin that was left behind. Large blisters should be drained. If you are uncertain of doing it yourself, make an appointment with a podiatrist so they can properly do it for you. Doing it at home requires a sterilzed needle soaked with alcohol. Using the needle, pop the blister and make the hole wide enough so it will not reseal. Apply antibiotic and put a bandaid on it.
If you are experiencing recurring blisters, visit a podiatrist. Your feet should be dry at all times, so it is important before and after you take your pointe shoes off to towel dry your feet, as blisters commonly occur on wet, moist skin.
This article is written by Jenn, a project manager for Dr. Tina A. Boucher, a podiatrist in Meriden, CT. Jenn frequently writes on her experiences as an adult ballet dancer and common foot problems associated with dance. Visit her blog, http://www.dancersfeetct.blogspot.com.