Difficult to heal blisters on feet
|Table of Contents|
|Intro||Who is this for||My Theory||The Cycle|
|My Solution||3rd times the charm?||My Verdict||Updates|
First of all, I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical expertise. This write up is strictly my recounting (for posterity) of what I've gone through / going through and all the stuff I've done about my issue over the course of a year. My descriptions are as accurate as I can remember, it probably won't be exactly the same for you so please do not misconstrue what I'm recounting as medical advice. Products I've used are mentioned for accuracy, not blame casting.
People like me, who for whatever reason, choose to go the "self help" way who have developed something like a rash that doesn't go away and starts out extremely itchy and stings. When scratched or chaffed (think socks and shoes walking around the whole day) the skin breaks and or blisters. Blisters can be many small ones or one big one and in different/multiple areas of the feet.
I first noticed a small rash on the top area of my foot just above the pinky and fourth toe. Didn't think much of it, put some antiseptic on it and just left it alone for the first few days. My "go to" footwear at the time was a pair of white Crocs. I'm in the tropics so its very convenient and "normal" to walk around in Crocs. I mention white because I used to wear a pair of navy blue ones to wash cars. Never had a problem. This white pair was a little more soft / rubbery than the blue ones. Anyways, never really thought about it until the rash got worse, a lot worse. So I googled rashes, footwear, crocs and found out that lots of people had allergies to rubber/plastic products so may be, me too. So I trashed the Crocs and continued with the antiseptic, keep it dry remedy, until it got extremely itchy...I scratched and blisters appeared within hours of where I scratched. Googled again, adding blisters to the search criteria...got a ton load of stuff. Betcha you did too. Anyways, spent way to much time researching so I just went to the doctors. I was told it was eczema and got a cream called Uniflex. I would like to say that it worked but I'm not sure as nothing really healed. So one day, I had decided to use bandaids (plasters) to cover the raw spots and smaller blisters because I had a long day outdoors. When I got home and took off my socks and shoes, every area coverd by the sticky part of the bandaid (plaster) was a rash. The pain and itch was bad enough to wake me from sleep (I'm a heavy sleeper). So I kept with the doctors advice for another few weeks until I ran out of cream. Nothing got better. I found out the hard way that my skin on my feet can't handle the adhesive on medical tape either (2 different brands/types). Have changed entire sock collection twice.
So now I'm not too sure on the contact dermatitis theory because some parts of skin heal (the dark brown sections in the photos) but the edges start to break. It seems like the yellow stuff leaking from the blisters and drying on the "normal" skin somehow corroded it and I wake up with new red sores. Time for another trip to the doctors office. I different doctor this time. Doc is not impressed with the length of time it took for me to go in. Was advised to keep the area clean, don't use adhesives, don't scratch. Prescribed Potassium Permanganate which I had to dilute with water to clean the afflicted areas and then I got a cream called Fucicort to apply. I would like to say that this combination worked, but I couldn't tell. As with previous months...some parts get better, other parts got afflicted then the better parts got re-afflicted. We are about 8 months into this cycle now. Have felt a sort of burning sensation when my feet (toes) touch my white metal bed frame for too long, so am avoiding touching bed frame with feet.
So now, I'm really frustrated. The blisters were getting huge, my pinky toe was one big blister...the whole toe all the way around and my 2nd toe was getting there too. The other blisters were getting big and painful now and I've resorted to puncturing them with a needle (alcohol wiped and lit with a lighter). There was yellow fluid leaking from places I didn't even realize the skin was broken, some blisters bled and this is when I've decided to try my best to not go anywhere and if I absolutely had to, I'd wrap up each affected toe in tissue paper (or toilet paper) put on the thinnest socks I can find and wear sandals. It was around this time that I stopped the potassium permanganate and Fucicort. I just cleaned as best I could with water and Cetaphil (allergen free soap) then I put some Candazole (over the counter fungal cream). Things got better quick. The blistering stopped, now only open sores to deal with, so I stopped the Candazole and used Germolene and Rapaid antiseptic cream (tea tree oil, aloe and vitamin E) both over the counter creams. This was working real well, until I had to get on my feet for the whole day in socks and shoes. The red areas where the skin grew back got rubbed raw (the parts where I couldn't wrap with tissue)..and thus the cycle started again...this time no blisters but yellow liquid leaking again. Also the raw areas of my feet became sensitive to body soap (tried 2 different brands) so I stopped using soap to clean off the yellow stuff, went back to potassium permanganate the one being sold over the counter as Permasol. I use it undiluted and it works wonders cleaning up the yellow crusty stuff, and old dark brown dead skin. I also made it a point to pick / snip off any loose skin. Since the permasol worked so well, I decided to use the fucicort again. We're around 12 months now of this ordeal. I've cleaned the house top to bottom for fear of my issues being bug bite related (google beetle bites blister) so...
Ok, so now, my close friends and parents are getting mad at me and pressuring me to see a specialist. Apparently they can draw fluid and test etc etc. I'll know for sure blah blah blah. Photo on the right was taken about a week before my appointment with a Senior Consultant Skin Specialist. No open sores, no leaking fluids, no flaky dead skin...it's going great. So I went walking around the 2 days prior to my appointment to try to get a blister or at least some more swelling. The result? Nothing! Yay! No blister, no broken skin...still some swelling but I'm a happy camper. I went to see the specialist anyways because I was hoping for some kind of resolution or at least an answer. So I get into the clinic and I'm asked to sign a form stating I am aware of the cost and I agree to pay...I found that odd but oh well...hundred or some bucks for some expert advice and resolution. Ready? ok here we go....(this next part is more for my friends and family, they'll laugh at me years over this).
I get called in, Doc motions me over to sit beside his desk, he's trying to input some data into his computer...not doing too well at it, but hey, I won't judge. He's older and at least I had a Commodore 64. Ok so while I'm waiting for him to finish entering my name into his computer...(jk..it looked like it but I couldn't really see exactly what he was doing, all I know is my chart he was looking at and trying to type something in). I take off my sandals and socks and when he's done typing, he looks down and says, yes allergy to something your feet touched, we'll have you do a skin test, it'll test for 50 of the most common allergens (can't really remember what the number was, I was still shocked at how quickly and easily he dismissed my feet). So I'm getting irritated and he's going on about takes 2 days, I can't shower cuz the patch is on my back then 5 days later there's another test that test for 500 (again, I'm making up the number) different things and if I bring my shoes they can test that too. Then he says "but it's up to you if you want to do the test of not". I'm just thinking WTH?!?! So I asked him, you're not gonna give me any cream or anything for my feet? He said "no, lets find out what it is you're allergic to first then don't touch that substance". I gave him a "that's messed up look" so he asked me to explain to him what happened. I'm thinking alrite finally getting somewhere...so I'm going on about my feet and he's doodling on the template in my file...the head region not the feet. Now I'm pissed cuz I think he's not paying attention. In my mind it was confirmed because he kept asking me about my shoes and leather, even tho I told him it was crocs, then my runners and hiking boots and then my sandals because of the chaffing. I had to explain to him what a bandaid was, what chaffing was, and what surgical tape was. So maybe, just maybe my english sucks or his sucks or he's yanking my chain. Then he proceeds to ask me again the same thing but this time I got to sit on the exam bench and he actually examined my feet, so I know he touched the swelling. He asked my about my private parts which I thought was VERY strange. I told him my privates were fine, then I sat back in the regular chair and he asks me again what happened and what shoes I wear. So I tell him again, at home nothing, when I gotta go out only socks and these sandals. So he inspects the sandals...I'm thinking OMG...I wear the sandals as a result of my issue and he's examining them as if it was the cause. So he sits back up and asks me "so what do you wear at home"...So i told him "shorts", he glared at me and I glared at him. Then I asked him if there was a possibility my issue is from bug bites and he said yes and that I need to tell him if I was bitten by a bug. Like if I knew for sure, I wouldn't be there. But anyways, I looked at him and said "yea, I did, mosquitoes" and he proceeded to tell me why it couldn't be until he saw my smirk. Then he said, "so are you going to do the tests?" "How about we fix your nose, how long have you had that?" I said, "since I was born". Now I know why he was doodling on the head portion of that template. So I asked what was wrong with my nose and apparently it's too red. So I said, "I never knew I had a problem with my nose and no you don't need to fix it. Regarding the test, I won't be doing them". Apparently this shocked everyone. So he offered more assistance on taking care of my feet. You can continue to use the Permasol and Fucicort. Shower only 5 minutes, wash only your armpits and private area. Don't get your feet wet, wear slippers or something at home so you don't touch anything you're allergic to. Oh, don't use the Permasol because it'll dry out your skin and don't use the Fucicort because your feet aren't infected. In my mind I'm thinking there's something wrong with this guy but I'm too frustrated to care. So he prescribes Betasone cream, a generic version of Uniflex. I walked out of the office.
As I'm sitting in the reception area, I'm thinking after a year, I'm back to square one on medications. I've been told by this specialist that my feet can get an allergic reaction to something my socks touch while I'm walking around (so why should I wear slippers at home? Is it because the bottom of my feet touch something and causes the reaction on the top of my feet?) I've also learned that your feet can be allergic to something that the rest of your body isn't. Then why stick the test patch on the back and not closer to the feet? The nurse who came out with my prescription was very courteous and helpful, explained everything I need to know (follow up, if I so choose, pharmacy, checking out etc). She ended up checking out for me which was cool. The pharmacist, as it turns out, cared more than this specialist about why I needed the cream and my symptoms and we had, in my opinion, a very infromative chat on the use and need of the Betasone cream. When I got home later in the evening, I was going to use the new cream. I read the label and it says, "Do not apply on broken skin". Well, I guess I know why it didn't work the first time I was prescribed that. So maybe the Fucicort works the same way? which is why it ony worked after the blisters, crusty stuff and dead skin was cleared away? My feet are much much better but I'm giving them a few more days rest and cream care before I go out photo hunting, can't wait!
I sincerely hope my hundred dollar story was helpful to someone, if not, at least humourus. Take care, everyone!
If you want to see more photos, check THIS FLICKR ALBUM. Hopefully I won't have anymore to add.
NOTE: The most effective(over the counter) moisturizer lotion I've come across and what's worked wonders for me is QV intensive "Body Moisturizer". Prior to that I used the "Moisturizing Cleanser" (incorrectly). I was applying the "Moisturizing Cleanser" as a lotion, it is a body wash. I didn't realize that until I went to buy another tube and saw the "Body Moisturizer" and asked the pharmacist what the differense was. Anyways, like I said, they both cleared up the cracked, dry skin from using the Permasol and Fucicort. I just made sure to gently pick away the dead skin. I also started to only wear sandals (with socks) to prevent chaffing.
After more research and ready as to why my feet are taking too long to heal, I've come across issues with blood circulation especially for people who sit for extended periods of time (me in front of my computers, editing/designing etc). So one of the solutions was compression wear as well as elevating the feet and stretching. I bought a few pairs of full compression pants as well as compression socks online. My pants arrived a week before the socks, and using the pants, stretching and elevating the feet, my lower body felt better. In particular my feet didn't look as discolored. My elevating of the feet is lying on my back with my legs resting on the wall, think 'L' shape. As good as this felt, there was still a bit of chaffing going on with my socks+sandals routine when leaving the house. When the compression socks came, the box said that compression socks prevent chaffing because they are so snug on the feet. I only ordered one pair of socks as they are REALLY EXPENSIVE. After using them a few times, they actually did prevent chaffing! After taking off the socks after a day of walking around (in my sandals) there weren't any flaky skin at all! SO, I bought 2 more pairs and used them in conjunction with my basketball shoes. Same result, all day walking around and no chaffing!
Recovery...FINALLY!!! ALthough there are still some raw looking parts and a lot of discoloration, the skin isn't breaking anymore. Here's a photo. I'm guessing a week or two and it'll all be normal....My fingers are crossed.
OK, so not entirely a circulation issue...sigh, I give up? Ok maybe not. So I went home to visit for a month and a half (March 2016) having a grand time boozing it up with my brothers and cousins since I've been away for 10+ years with only a 10 day visit 4 years ago. Then I got a couple blisters and my mom got fed up I guess and made an appointment with this retired TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor who is a retired skin specialist and got my older brother to help "drag" me there. Seriously, mom, really?
Ok, so I went, and couldn't understand a word this doctor was saying and had to rely on my daughter and mom to translate. Here's the gist of what he diagnosed me with...poisoned inards. Seriously, he said my entire digestive (I'm guessing because he motioned over my entire belly area) system is poisoned that's why my feet / toes won't heal and that's why my nose area is red. I guess my expression gave away what I was thinking because he became stern and gave me a list of foods/beverages I need to stay away from at least until my foot and nose heal. Guess what the first two items I saw were? Alcohol and coffee ! oh geez! So my mom and daughter started laughing because they know how much coffee I drink and how much I love my beers. Then I looked at the rest of the generic list for "poisoned inards" ok not so bad but...alcohol and coffee?! So the doc "kinda" gave in and told me that if I really must drink, drink in moderations, red wine but absolutely stay away from beer. As for the coffee, substitute it for tea. Red tea, not green tea. Note: red tea is the asian name for black tea from what I understood.
So I used the lotion and cream as directed, finished the 2 week cycle of consumable meds (it was a powder I had to mix with water) and my foot was so much better, it was magical. Really. everyone was soooo shocked and amazed until 2 days later we decided to celebrate with a beer party. Woke up with a couple of big blisters. So we're thinking this chinese doctor really knows his stuff, so for the past year and a half it was my diet (read beer) that was the culprit?! Back to the doc for more meds.
He didn't really say, "I told you so" but I kinda felt it, or maybe he did, I just didn't understand. This time he said he'll add an extra ingredient to the powder. I got enough for 2 months. Since I won't be going back home (Canada) for another couple of years.
It's now mid May, and as you can see in my blog post, my foot is all better...only the coloration of one toe is off. I've not had any beer at all since the last blister incident, no coffee since the first doctor's visit and have pretty much stuck to the do not eat list. The tea I've been drinking is Pu'er and Oolong. I've started mixing some lemon honey now too. It's yummy.
DO NOT EAT LIST
Seafood: fish, shrimp, prawn, abalone, shark fin, seafood sauces, XO sauce, shrimp paste, oyster sauce
Nuts: peanuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pistachios
Vegetables: Bok Choy, bamboo shoots, chives, mushrooms, eggplant, pumpkin, celery, chili
Fruits: Mango, durian, lychee, longan, manana, watermelon
Misc: Alcohol, spicy foods, sesame oil, deep fried foods, duck, goose, milk, glutinous rice, chocolate, coffee