Blisters: First Aid

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If a blister isn't too painful, try to keep it intact. Unbroken skin over a blister may provide a natural barrier to bacteria and decreases the risk of infection. Cover it with an adhesive bandage. If you're allergic to the adhesive used in some tape, use paper tape.

Seek medical care if the blister is painful or prevents you from walking or using one of your hands. Consider taking the following self-care measures if medical help is not available.

How to drain a blister

To relieve blister-related pain, drain the fluid while leaving the overlying skin intact. Here's how:

  • Wash your hands and the blister with soap and warm water.
  • Swab the blister with iodine.
  • Sterilize a clean, sharp needle by wiping it with rubbing alcohol.
  • Use the needle to puncture the blister. Aim for several spots near the blister's edge. Let the fluid drain, but leave the overlying skin in place.
  • Apply an ointment (Vaseline, Plastibase, other) to the blister and cover it with a nonstick gauze bandage. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  • Change the dressing every day. Apply more ointment and a bandage.

Blister prevention

To prevent friction blisters on your feet, wear shoes that fit well. It also helps to use moisture-wicking socks. Try the various socks, shoes, and insoles that are designed specifically to help reduce blistering. You might also try attaching moleskin to the inside of your shoe where it might rub or dusting the inside of your socks with talcum powder. Gloves help prevent blisters on your hands.

Updated: 2015-02-11

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Publication Date: 2015-02-11

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