Blisters occur when skin is rubbed against another surface, exposed to heat, or pinched significantly, which can come in the form of friction blisters, blood blisters, or heat blisters. When you get a blister, damaged tissue leaks fluid that collects under the top layer of skin. If you do get a blister, it is best to keep the blister protected and intact because it provides a natural barrier to germs and bacteria. To treat an intact blister, follow the steps below.
Wash your hands and wash the blister with soap and warm water. Pat dry with sterile gauze or a clean cloth.
Cover the blister with an adhesive bandage or blister bandage and change the dressing each day or when it gets wet or dirty.
Sometimes, if a blister is too painful, you may be required to drain it. To drain a blister, follow the steps below. Seek medical advice before draining a blister yourself if you have poor circulation or diabetes.
Wash your hands and the blister with soap and warm water, and swab the blister with iodine if available.
Sterilize a clean, sharp needle with rubbing alcohol.
Puncture the blister with the sterilized needle near the edges of the blister in several spots and let the fluid drain out. Leave the overlying skin in place.
Apply antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly and cover with a non-stick gauze dressing. Stop using the ointment if a rash appears.
Check each subsequent day for infection, including redness, drainage, or increased warmth, pain, or swelling until the area is healed. Signs of infection may also include white or yellow drainage rather than clear or bloody drainage.
To prevent blisters, it is important to wear gloves when performing any kind of manual labor. It is also important to wear well-fitting shoes and clothing. Be alert when using tools that can pinch and always wear sunscreen when going outdoors for extended periods of time. Use caution when handling fire or hot items, and always wear weather appropriate clothing. Stop any activity that causes pain, discomfort, or redness, which may turn into a blister.
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License: CC BY 3.0
Image obtained from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blood_blister_close-up_2_by_Esinam.jpg
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Image obtained from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sunburn_blisters.jpg
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American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). How to prevent and treat blisters. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/prevent-treat-blisters.
Austin, M., Crawford, R., & Armstrong, V. J. (2014). First aid manual. (G. M. Piazza, Ed.) (5th ed.). DK Publishing. https://kuiyem.ku.edu.tr/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/American-College-of-Emergency-Physicians-ACEP-First-Aid-Manual.pdf.
Cleveland Clinic. (2021, April 30). Blisters. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16787-blisters.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, February 13). Blisters: First aid. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-blisters/basics/art-20056691.