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Blisters: Don't Pop Them! Prevent Them Instead

Blisters: Don't Pop Them! Prevent Them Instead

What causes blisters?
I have a blister. How do I take care of it?
I'm going shoe shopping. What should I keep in mind?

What causes blisters?
Blisters are a very common injury. They form when fluid builds up between layers of skin. A blister looks like a bubble on your skin. The fluid that fills it is most likely clear, but it could also be filled with blood.

Blisters happen when something rubs against or irritates your skin. You can get a blister on your hand from raking the lawn or rowing a boat. They also happen on your feet when your shoes rub you the wrong way. If you forget to put on sunscreen and get a bad sunburn, you may get sun blisters. And if you have a medical condition called eczema, you can get oozy skin sores that look like blisters. back to top

I have a blister. How do I take care of it?
Blisters usually heal by themselves. Don't pop your blister! Breaking it can cause an infection (plus, you'd have to deal with all that gross, oozing pus). And blisters usually go away faster if you leave them alone. You can protect a small blister with an adhesive bandage while it is healing. If the blister is large, cover it with a gauze pad so that it gets air. You may also want to avoid doing whatever activity caused that blister.

If you absolutely must pop the blister (if it's very painful or is keeping you from walking, for example) have an adult help you follow these steps.
  • Wash your hands and the skin over and around the blister with warm water and soap.
  • Swipe the blister with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball.
  • Use a sterile needle (in most first-aid kits) to make tiny holes around the edge of the blister. Don't pull off the skin covering the blister.
  • Drain the fluid by gently pressing on the blister. Clean it up gently with warm water.
  • Put antibiotic ointment on the blister and cover it with an adhesive bandage or gauze.
  • Wash your hands again.
  • After a few days (once the dead skin dries), gently peel off the dry, dead skin and put on more antibiotic ointment. If the skin is tender to the touch, cover it with an adhesive bandage or gauze for another day or two.
If the area around the blister becomes red and swollen or it oozes more pus after you have cleaned it out, it might be infected. Call your health professional if you think you have an infected blister. back to top

I'm going shoe shopping. What should I keep in mind?
If you get a blister from an activity like rowing, raking, or running, you might have to wait until it heals and a callus forms, protecting you from getting more blisters. If you get blisters from your shoes, though, you aren't buying shoes that fit right.

We love shoes that look great. But it's important to remember that shoes also protect your feet. Shoes that don't fit well can make you miserable and cause problems like blisters and ingrown toenails. Next time you buy shoes, keep these things in mind.
  • Make sure your toes have room to wiggle when you're standing up in them.
  • Shoes with pointed toes and high heels may look stylish, but they can cause blisters and other foot problems. If you must have them, wear them only occasionally, and not all day long.
  • Choose soft, flexible shoes. Soles that are too stiff can cause blisters on your heels.
  • Try on both shoes and walk around in them in the store. You probably have one foot that is slightly larger than the other. Make sure the shoes fit both of your feet!
  • Buy shoes in the middle or at the end of the day. Your feet swell as the day goes on.
  • Don't buy uncomfortable shoes and think they'll "break in." Chances are, you'll have lots of blisters and pain before that happens. back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/22/2001
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