Blisters are small pockets of fluid that develop under the upper skin layers as a response to excessive pressure or injury in the area. The feet in particular are quite prone to blisters. Blisters can be as small as a pinprick or larger than three centimeters in diameter. While most blisters contain clear liquid, blood blisters can also appear. In most cases these blisters will heal in about a week. Blister treatment should depend on the type and condition of blisters.
Blisters are caused when the body attempts to create a natural cushion to protect the underlying layers of skin from damage. Blisters can be caused due to friction on the area of the skin that has been affected, poorly fitting shoes, sunburn, scalds, burns, and a viral skin infection such as herpes or warts, an allergic reaction or a fungal infection. Symptoms of a blister include redness or tenderness on a patch of skin. Over time, this area may raise into a bump and fill with a clear liquid. If the blister is a blood blister, there may be blood in this fluid as well.
If the blister is not inhibiting you in any way, make a point of leaving it alone. Itching blisters can often be relieved if they are kept wet and cool.
1. Cover with Caution
If something such as your shoe rubbing against the blister causing you pain, you should cover it to add a layer of protection. Do not allow any tape from a bandage to touch the blister and avoid wrapping the bandage all the way around the affected limb as this can cut off the circulation. If you have a blister on an area where pressure will be applied like the bottom of the food, use a doughnut shaped pad to protect the blister while keeping the blister open.
2. Drain It Carefully
Large blisters will typically break on their own before they heal. If the blister is swollen and causing a lot of discomfort you may need to drain it on your own. Sanitize a needle with soap and water or rubbing alcohol, and then use it to puncture the edge of the blister. Gently push the fluid in the blister toward the hole, then carefully wash the blister and pat it dry with clean gauze.After draining a blister or the blister has broken, do not remove the excess skin on top of the affected area unless it tears or pus starts to form under the skin. Leave the skin over the tender part of the skin so it can add a layer of protection.
3. Apply Bandage Correctly
If you need to apply a bandage or gauze over your blister, apply it loosely. Do not allow any tape from the bandage to touch the blister. If the bandage causes your limb to swell, become cool or tingle, unwrap it and reapply it more loosely. Any time your bandage becomes dirty or wet, change it for a fresh one. Soaking a bandage in cool water can make them easier to remove.
4. Take OTC Products
Ointments such as bacitracin or polymyxin B can help prevent bandages from sticking to your blister. Avoid using iodine or alcohol on a blister as this can delay the healing process. Also avoid any ointments that contain ingredients you are allergic to. Non-prescription pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen or acetaminophen can help relieve the pain associated with a blister.
Precautions on Blister Treatment
- Always make sure your hands are clean before touching blisters as they are very susceptible to infection. Wash your hands with soap and water before administering any treatment.
- Watch for signs of infection while your blisters are healing. If you develop a fever, the blister begins to drain pus, red streaks extend from the blister or the blister becomes red, more swollen, warm or painful than before, contact your doctor.
Wear shoes that fit properly to help prevent friction on the feet. If you notice an area on the foot becoming “hot” while you are moving around, stop and tape this area to help prevent further damage. Applying a spray deodorant to the feet can help reduce sweating and cut down on the risk of developing a fungal infection that can cause blisters on the feet.
Socks that are designed to draw moisture away from the feet can help you prevent blisters. Seek out sports socks that are specifically designed to manage sweat if you will be playing sports or exercising. If you cannot find these, make a point of changing your socks when they get sweaty to avoid them causing friction or rubbing on the feet.
If you will be doing heavy duty work such as wielding a shovel you should wear heavy duty work gloves. These will help reduce friction on your hands so you will be less likely to develop blisters.
4. Watch for Some Things
Avoid allowing your skin to come into contact with chemicals unnecessarily. Take adequate protection from the sun by wearing hats, clothing with plenty of coverage and sunscreen. This is particularly vital for those with fare skin. If you are dealing with objects are hot, or if you are working around steam or flames take adequate precautions to protect your skin so you do not get a heat blister.