A blister is a minor injury that unless it becomes infected, is found in unusual place, or reoccurs frequently can be treated at home without the assistance of a doctor. Blisters are formed by repeated the rubbing and friction in a particular area, which then fills up with fluid. Because they are so often exposed to friction the hands and feet are the most common place for blisters. Blisters will also form more easily on skin that is warm and moist, as opposed to dry or soaked, which again makes hands and feet an ideal place for blisters.

Types of blisters

There are two main kinds of blisters, friction and burn, and both are treated the same way. Leave the blister alone for a period of about 24 hours (you may cover it gently with an adhesive bandage to keep it from getting broken.). If after this time the fluid has not been re-absorbed, and you can see no apparent change in larger blisters then you may begin the following treatment.

Over small intact blisters you should place a blister bandage and leave them alone, as they should heal quickly and you should not break them.

Larger intact (or ones with only a small tear) blisters are to be treated in the following way.

Sterilize a needle or straight pin by heating it until it turns red in a flame, placing it in boiling water or soak it in rubbing alcohol.

Clean the blister with rubbing alcohol or antibiotic soap and water.

After the needle has cooled, carefully pierce the blister on two opposite sides and press down gently on the blister with a sterile gauze pad to drain the fluid.

Do not remove the loose skin!

Cover the area with an antibiotic ointment. Keep in mind that you may want to avoid products containing Neomycin, which is known to cause allergic reactions.

Then cover the blister with a blister bandage and change the dressing daily, or whenever it becomes wet, loose, or dirty.

Damaged blisters

If the blister is has a large tear in it…

Then take sterilized, fine scissors and carefully, remove the loose skin after the fluid has been drained.

The area should then be thoroughly cleaned with antibacterial soap and water

Put on antibacterial ointment and cover with a blister bandage.

Infected blisters

If you see any of the following signs your blister may have become infected and you should go to a doctor to receive the proper treatment.

Pus draining from the blister

Very red or warm skin around the blister

Red streaks leading away from the blister.

Preventing blisters

Blisters can be easily prevented, if the right steps are taken (no pun intended). For blisters on your feet, you should be sure that the shoes you buy are comfortable. The best time to buy shoes is in the afternoon or evening as feet tend to swell during the day. Shoes that fit right should have about a thumbs space in between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If your shoes are too narrow they can cause blisters on your big and little toes, if the toe box is too shallow they can cause blisters on the tops of your toes, and if the shoe is too loose they can create blisters on the tops of your toes.

When buying shoes for a sport, make sure to wear the socks or padding you would normally wear around your feet to make sure that the shoe will fit comfortably. Jog or walk around the store before buying them and then wear them around the house for several hours to make sure they don’t “rub” anywhere and cause uncomfortable friction.

Socks also help decrease friction in shoes, and socks made of synthetic materials remove moisture from the feet better than wool or cotton socks. This moisture removal also decreases the likelihood of getting a blister. If you know you feet will be sweating a lot, you can carry extra socks with you to change when the first pair starts to become uncomfortable.

Another step that can be taken to prevent blisters is to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your feet. This will help decrease friction. This can also be used on your hands. Things like wearing gloves when doing activities such as construction, landscaping, moving, and other activities where your hands are exposed to friction will also help cut down on the likelihood of getting blisters.

*** Before administering any first aid to anyone outside your family, be aware of your rights and responsibilities: The Good Samaritan Law. ***