How to Treat a Blister
Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that appear on your skin when it has experienced friction. You may get them on your feet after walking around in shoes that are too tight, or on your hands after spending a day shoveling in the garden. If you get a blister, it's important to know how to treat it at home, so that it can heal quickly and you can avoid infection. However, there may be times when you do need to seek medical attention for a large or infected blister.
Treating Small Blisters at Home
Wash the area with soap and water.If you have a blister, no matter how small, it's important to keep the area clean. This will help ensure that if it accidentally pops, it won't get infected.
Give small blisters some air.Small, unbroken blisters will go away on their own after a few days. There's no need to pop them or bandage them. Just air them out as much as you can.
- If the blister is on your foot, wear sandals or loose slippers around the house to give it time to heal.
- If the blister is on your hand, there's no need to wear gloves or a bandage as long as you aren't using your hands to do something that might cause the blister to break or get infected.
Protect unpopped blisters.When you leave the house or start an activity, protect unpopped blisters so they don't accidentally get popped. Use a loose bandage or a donut moleskin bandage to cover it.
- Donut moleskin bandages are available at most pharmacies. They create a protective barrier around the blister, while still allowing it to breathe.
Treating Large Blisters at Home
Wash the area gently.Clean a large blister and the surrounding area with warm, soapy water. Make sure your hands are also clean, since blisters can easily become infected.
- Be gentle when cleaning the blister. Try to keep the blister intact until you can pop it in a controlled way.
Drain the blister if it pops.Press on the blister with your finger. Fluid should begin flowing from the hole. Keep pressing on it until it is completely drained. Use a cotton ball to wipe away the fluid.
- Draining your own blister is a sanitary way to help it heal faster and to reduce the pain you might feel from the swollen area.
- If your large blister does not pop on its own, you should visit your healthcare professional.
Do not remove the flap of skin.Once your blister is drained, there will be a flap of skin left on the surface. This deflated blister skin will protect the skin underneath from getting infected. There's no need to tear or cut it off.
Apply an ointment to blisters you have drained.Use a cotton swab to apply polymyxin B or bacitracin antibiotic ointment to the area. This will prevent the wound from becoming infected and will keep the bandage from sticking to your skin.
- Some people are allergic to antibiotic ointments. If you are, cover the area in petroleum jelly instead.
Bandage popped blisters.Protect popped blisters so they don't become infected. Use a bandage or gauze to loosely cover the area. Make sure the tape doesn't touch the blister.
- Change the bandage once a day, or every time it gets wet or dirty.
- If the blister is on your foot, wear socks and comfortable shoes. Don't make it more irritated by walking around in the shoes that caused the blister to begin with.
- If the blister is on your hand, wear gloves to protect it when you do daily tasks like washing dishes or cooking. Don't repeat the task that caused you to get the blister to begin with.
Seeking Medical Attention
Consider having your doctor treat large blisters.Blisters that are large, painful, and in an area that is hard for you to get to can be treated by a doctor. A doctor will have sterile tools they can use for draining the blister. This will ensure that the area is clean and disinfected before sending you on your way.
Go to the doctor if a blister gets infected.An infected blister can lead to bigger problems, so it's best to have a doctor check it out and advise you on the proper treatment. They may clean and dress the area and give you a prescription for antibiotics. Signs of infection include the following:
- Red, itchy, swollen skin near the affected area.
- Yellow pus emerging from under the skin flap of the deflated blister.
- The area around the blister is warm to the touch.
- Red streaks on the skin running from the infected area.
Seek immediate treatment if you experience serious symptoms.In rare cases, an infected blister can lead to bigger health problems as the infection moves throughout the body. Seek immediate medical care if you have the following serious symptoms:
- A high fever.
Wear gloves when working with your hands.Blisters are commonly caused by doing repetitive movements that cause friction. However, if you wear gloves before you even start your project, the friction created by these movements will be minimized and blisters can be prevented.
- For example, using a shovel for extended periods of time rubs repeatedly on the skin in the same spot. However, wearing gloves while using a shovel will cushion your hands and prevent blisters.
Wear proper footwear.Wearing new shoes or shoes that fit poorly can create blisters, especially on the toes and the back of the heel. To avoid getting blisters on your feet, make sure that your shoes fit correctly. Break in new shoes gradually by wearing them often but only for short periods of time. This repeated wear will break them in without rubbing long enough to create blisters.
Protect areas of skin that will get rubbed repeatedly.If you know that a pair of shoes causes blisters or you are going to do a project that you know will create blisters on your hands, be proactive and protect your body. Put padding on areas of your body that you think will get repeatedly rubbed, so that blisters can't form.
- For example, put a bandage over a spot on your hand that gets repeatedly rubbed while you are doing a craft project or some other repetitive motion.
- If you have problems with blisters on your feet, wear 2 pairs of socks to create more padding on them.
- There is also padding available at most pharmacies that is made to cushion areas of your feet that rub in your shoes. This padding, often called "mole skin," typically sticks to the skin to keep it in place.
Reduce friction between areas of your skin.Use lotions, powders, and petroleum jelly to reduce friction between 2 areas of your skin that rub against each other. For instance, if your legs are repeatedly rubbing up against each other, put some petroleum jelly between them so that the rubbing doesn't create friction and heat, which will cause blisters.
- For example, those that ride bikes or run long distances experience a lot of skin rubbing, which can lead to blisters. Using lubrication between areas that rub can minimize discomfort and blisters.
QuestionHow do I treat multiple blisters on the tips of my fingers?
Family Nurse PractitionerFamily Nurse PractitionerExpert AnswerBlisters on the tips of your fingers are usually caused by repetitive activities, such as playing guitar or other stringed instruments. If this is the case, your body will start to form callouses over the area so that you won't keep developing blisters. In the meantime, play your instrument only as much as you can. Keep your fingers clean, and apply an antibacterial ointment and bandage if the blisters get raw. Don't pick at the blisters. If you use a bandage, change it often and replace it if it gets dirty or falls off.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do for a medium-sized 1 to 2 blister on my lower thigh?
Family Nurse PractitionerFamily Nurse PractitionerExpert AnswerKeep the area clean. Apply an antibacterial ointment, and cover it with a bandage. Change the bandage daily until your blister heals.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I already tore off the skin?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerProtect it with a sterile bandage to act as the skin flap or just be VERY careful until it dries out.Thanks!
QuestionHow long will it take for an unbroken blister to heal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSometimes 2-3 days, sometimes a week or so. It depends on your body's healing process.Thanks!
QuestionShould I drain a blister if it is small in size?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, as that will allow it to become infected.Thanks!
QuestionShould I drain a blister from my finger that used to be a callus and cover it or should I let it heal naturally?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSterilize the area and then lance it using a sewing needle. If it causes pain when you touch it or apply gentle pressure, you should numb it with ice until you cant feel anything, sterilize the area, lance (on the side), apply pressure, and then cover with antibiotic ointment. Cover with a bandage and wash daily.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I have to repeat the task that caused the blister?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut something in between the blister and whatever it is you're interacting with. Wear gloves if it's on your hand or layer gauze over top of the blister. Also, try to keep the area as sterile as possible to avoid infection.Thanks!
QuestionIf I pop it will it hurt?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt will probably not hurt, because there are no nerves under the skin bubble.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do with a blister I have on the side of my foot that I don't want to pop?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLet it grow until it pops naturally. You won't feel it pop as there are no nerves.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you identify a blister?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA blister is an area of skin covered by a raised, fluid-filled bubble. Blisters are usually clear, unlike pimples, which are red or white.Thanks!
I have a small blister that popped on the outside of my finger. It looks like a piece of rice under the skin, and I don't remember doing anything to get it. I popped it the next morning and white pus came out. What should I do?
What if I constantly get blisters in the same spot that has calluses?
What should I do with tiny blisters on the sides of my fingers?
I have a huge blister on the palm of my hand, it really hurts and it is already popped. What can I do to treat it afterwards as it isn't going down and the skin under the original is really red?
Should you pour spirit on the any size blister
To treat a small blister, wash the area with warm soapy water and then let the blister go away on its own without popping it. If a blister is large and painful, drain it and then cover it with antibiotic ointment and a bandage. Protect all blisters from further irritation by covering them when there is a chance they will be rubbed or irritated. For instance, if the blister is on your foot, wear sandals or slippers that don't touch it so it won’t get irritated. If the blister becomes infected, seek medical attention.
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