Who hasn’t had to deal with painful blisters after trying to break in a new pair of shoes? While shoe friction is one of the most common causes of blisters, you can also get them from burns and sunburns. If you want to know how to treat a blister, that all depends on what caused it in the first place.
How to Treat a Blister Caused By Burns, Sunburns, and Friction
If you notice fluid coming from a blister, not to fret — it’s perfectly normal! Your body recognizes your skin has been damaged and is sending fluid to that area to help it heal. But no matter what the cause of your blister is, do not burst the blister. This can allow germs to get in the affected area and cause an infection. If you have a severe burn or sunburn, you probably want to seek professional medical attention. For mild cases, here are some tips for administering first aid:
How to Treat a Blister Caused By Burns (first-degree burns)
- Cool the blistered area with a wet compress for five minutes or longer. You can use a cool, clean cloth to do this.
- For pain, you can try taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Cover the blistered area with lidocaine gel or cream. Using one with aloe vera works best to soothe the skin.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment, like bacitracin, and loose gauze to protect the affected area.
How to Treat a Blister Caused by Sunburn
- Use a cool wet cloth to cool down the blistered area. Remember, do not burst the blister because of the threat of germs and infection.
- Find a topical sunburn cream to help soothe the burn.
- See a doctor if you have multiple blisters or if you’re in a lot of pain.
How to Treat a Blister Caused by Friction
- Of course, stop the activity you were doing that caused the blister. For instance, if it’s a particular set of shoes that gave you a blister, you should stop wearing them. If it was caused by ice skates, you may want to try on a different size next time. If you have blisters on your hands from using a hockey stick, tennis racket, or gardening tool, let your hands heal and try using gloves next time around.
- Cool and clean the blistered area with cool water.
- Cover with a Bandaid for the meantime if the blister is in an exposed area.
- Before bed, cover the blister with non-stick dressing to prevent it from rubbing against the sheets.
Why do blisters form?
Blisters actually form as a protective mechanism when skin has been damaged by friction, heat, cold, or chemicals. Fluid fills the affected area underneath the upper layer of skin (the epidermis) to protect the lower layer of skin (the dermis). The fluid serves to protect the area from further damage and allow it to heal.
How long does it usually take for a blister to heal?
Most blisters heal on their own within three to seven days. Undoubtedly, blisters can cause you a lot of pain initially, but your body generally is able to heal from them on its own. The key is to keep the area clean for fast healing. For blisters caused by contagious viral infections, like chickenpox or shingles, call your doctor about proper treatment to avoid spreading the virus to others.
What does an infected blister look like?
If your blister is infected, you’ll likely see it fill up with a yellowish-greenish pus. The site may also be painful. An infected blister that goes untreated can lead to a contagious bacterial infection or even sepsis, so you should never leave an infected blister untreated. You should also seek medical advice for blisters that:
- Come from burns or scalding
- Are near the eyes or mouth
- Appear after a severe sunburn
- Result from an allergic reaction
- Result from contact with chemicals or other substances
Is it OK to pop a blister?
Typically, there is no need to pop your blister. For more severe blisters, you probably want to seek medical advice to prevent an infection from happening. The new skin beneath the blister needs protection, so if you’re dealing with a serious burn, it’s best to seek the help of a doctor.
What home remedies can I use on a blister?
Known for its healing qualities, aloe vera from the aloe vera plant is great to apply on blisters. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, which means it helps relieve swelling and redness. Its hydrating properties keeps the skin moist, helping the blister heal faster. Honey also has healing, antibacterial properties that may work on a blister from a burn. However, you may only want to use honey on less severe blisters.
What is not okay to use on a blister?
While some old wives’ tales carry truth, you probably don’t want to put anything like butter or grease on the blister. Why? Grease can cause the blister to retain heat, which can cause more damage to the skin. While we mentioned honey may help with the healing of moderate blisters, you’ll want to consult a doctor first. The amount of honey and the way the dressing is applied can impact how the wound will heal.