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.
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.
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.
Feb. 11, 2015
- Subbarao I, et al., eds. American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care. New York, N.Y.: Random House; 2009.
- Millman M, et al., eds. Mayo Clinic Guide to Self-Care. 6th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=392. Accessed Nov. 6, 2014.
- Buttaravoli P, et al. Minor Emergencies. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 5, 2014.
- Brennan FH. Treatment and prevention of foot friction blisters. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. 2013;17:45.
- Khodaee M, et al. Common ultramarathon injuries and illnesses: Race day management. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2012;11:290.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 16, 2014.