Blister on the feet are very common, whether on children, teens, or adults. They can occur from all types of footwear in all types of situations, from everyday activities to extreme sports. Occasionally, blister go bad.
Several years ago Hillary Swank was filming Million Dollar Baby and while training, developed a blister on one of her feet. She ignored it and it festered into a raging infection. Hillary ended up in the hospital for treatment. Ignoring the simple blister could have resulted in the loss of her foot from infection.
Then last week, the British Medical Journal published evidence of two cases of children suffering toxic shock syndrome from blisters on their football boots. They describe two cases of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in children after playing football in new boots. Both developed friction blisters over their Achilles tendons. The blisters contained Staphylococcus aureus, which in one case was found to express the toxic shock syndrome gene (TSS1).
In the first case, a 13-year-old girl developed friction blisters over both heels after playing a competitive game of football in new boots. She was admitted to her local hospital after developing a range of symptoms including fever, rash, abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension), vomiting and diarrhea. Further examination revealed a blister, 2cm in diameter, over each of her Achilles tendons containing the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus with the toxic shock syndrome gene (TSS1). A diagnosis of toxic shock syndrome was made and she was treated with antibiotics.
In the second case, a healthy 11-year-old boy played football in a new pair of boots, causing a blister on his right heel. Over the next two days he developed fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and a rash. Within hours of admission to hospital, his condition deteriorated and his blood pressure fell. Again, pus from the blister on his heel contained Staphylococcus aureus. He also developed a secondary rash during convalescence.
Toxic shock syndrome has become less common since the link with tampon use was recognised in the 1980s, write the authors. And in children, for whom this association does not apply, the syndrome is rare. But these cases show that the syndrome may follow relatively trivial skin trauma.
The lesson here is that blisters are an injury and must be watched for signs of infection. I’d wager that 99.9999% of all blisters heal fine. But if that .0001% is on your foot, or on the foot of someone you know or love, you’d be more careful. Remember, happy feet are blister free feet.