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Blisters (cont.)

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Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

A small, unbroken blister less than 1 in. (2.5 cm) across, even a blood blister, will usually heal on its own.

  • Do not try to break the blister. Just leave it alone.
  • Leave the blister uncovered unless something rubs against it. If you do cover it:
    • Put on a loose bandage. Secure the bandage so the tape does not touch the blister. Do not wrap tape completely around a hand, arm, foot, or leg because it could cut off the blood supply if the limb swells. If the tape is too tight, you may develop symptoms below the level of the tape, such as numbness, tingling, pain, or cool and pale or swollen skin.
    • If the blister is in an area where pressure is applied, such as on the bottom of your foot, protect it with a doughnut-shaped moleskin padClick here to see an illustration.. Leave the area over the blister open.
  • Do not wear the shoes or do the activity that caused a friction blister until the blister heals.

Home treatment may help decrease pain, prevent infection, and help heal large or broken blisters.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching blisters. Blisters can easily become infected.
  • Most large blisters will break on their own and then heal. If you have a large blister, you may want to drain it depending on where it is. Clean a needle with rubbing alcohol or soap and water, then use it to gently puncture the edge of the blister. Press the fluid in the blister toward the hole you made. Wash the blister after you have drained it, and pat it dry with clean gauze.
  • Do not remove the flap of skin covering the blister unless it tears or gets dirty or pus forms under it. If the blister has just a small puncture or break, leave the flap of skin on and gently smooth it flat over the tender skin underneath.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B or bacitracin, if you are not allergic to it. The ointment will prevent the bandage from sticking to the blister and may help prevent infection. Do not use alcohol or iodine on the blister because these may delay healing. Do not use an ointment if you know you are allergic to it.
  • Loosely apply a bandage or gauze. Secure the bandage so the tape does not touch the blister. Do not wrap tape completely around a hand, arm, foot, or leg because it could cut off the blood supply if the limb swells. If the tape is too tight, you may develop numbness, tingling, pain, or cool and pale or swollen skin below the level of the tape.
  • If the skin under the bandage begins to itch or develops a rash, stop using the antibiotic ointment.
  • Change the bandage every day and any time it gets wet or dirty. You can soak the bandage in cool water just before removing it to make it less painful to take off.
  • Avoid wearing the shoes or doing the activity that caused the blister until the blister heals.

Watch for a skin infection while your blister is healing. Signs of infection include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the blister.
  • Red streaks extending away from the blister.
  • Drainage of pus from the blister.
  • Fever.

Home remedies may relieve itching from blisters. One way to help decrease itching is to keep the itchy area cool and wet. Apply a washcloth that has been soaked in ice water, or get in a cool tub or shower.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • A skin infection develops.
  • A crusty blister that drains honey-colored fluid develops.
  • Signs of illness develop, such as shaking chills, fever, belly pain, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle or joint aches, headache, or a vague sense of illness.
  • Symptoms do not improve, or they become more severe or frequent.
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