Caring for a Blister

by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 6, 2010)

If you have ever developed a mild blister, you know that it isn't overly painful until you accidentally or purposely remove the bubbled top skin. Exposing the raw, oozing layer under the blistered skin often creates extreme pain, especially if you directly apply first aid creams or sprays containing alcohol.

There are many kinds of blisters, but three of the most common types and causes are:

  • Water blisters, caused mostly by continuous rubbing or friction against the skin, are filled with clear, watery body fluids.
  • Fever blisters, triggered by stress or fever and caused by a dormant herpes simplex virus, appear in and around the mouth as tiny blisters.
  • Blood blisters, caused by pinching, friction, or bruising of the skin, are filled full of blood.

Depending on the type of blister you have determines how to care for it. Perhaps you've been overzealous working on your lawn, and your rake handle rubbed your forefinger continuously until a water blister formed. You can care for your water blister at home, by following these steps:

  1. If the blister is wholly intact, gently clean the skin on and around the blister with soap and water.
  2. Place a loose, sterile gauze or bandage on the blister, taking care not to burst the blister.
  3. If the blister is in an awkward place, you can use a sterilized needle to puncture the side of it, gently drain the fluid, clean the area, apply antibiotic ointment, and then apply a loose gauze or bandage.
  4. Do not peel the top skin away from the blister. Exposing the blister can cause bacteria to grow, resulting in infection.
  5. If redness, swelling, or pus develops, see your doctor right away.

Fever blisters are caused by a virus. Even so, your doctor may prescribe a treatment of antibiotics to stave off the possibility of bacteria-caused infection (see item 4, above). Fever blisters, if left alone, usually disappear within a week or so. Blood blisters are treated much the same way as water blisters, with the recommendation not to puncture the top skin to prevent infection.

The best remedy for a blister is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Since common blisters are mostly caused by friction, use heavy work gloves when working with your hands, and wear well-fitting shoes when hiking, walking, or running. Also effective in reducing skin friction is the application of talcum powder or petroleum jelly before exercise. Professional runners use duct tape to prevent friction, since taping forms a barrier between socks and skin.

If redness, pus, foul odors, or red streaks appear around your blister, seek professional attention as soon as possible.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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