Heal Blisters Faster at Home
A blister is a raised area of skin that contains bodily fluids like lymph to shield an injury, which may have been caused by friction or burning. Blisters can be painful, even if they are small.
Any external friction blisters can be treated easily and safely at home, but blisters inside the mouth and blisters of second-degree burns require examination by a medical professional to prevent infection that may become severe.
Any kind of blister or cankers sore on the inside of your mouth should be brought to the attention of your dentist immediately. A serious condition may be occurring that could worsen quickly.
The following information is for small external skin blisters.
Healing Small External Blisters
Many people incur blisters from shoes that do not fit quite right and rub painfully on the toes and heels. In elementary school, all of my friends and I suffered from this "new shoe syndrome." We hated it! The blisters broke as we walked and we suffered extreme pain. Band-Aids would not stay on.
Other individuals develop blisters on the fingers from using scissors or hand tools like pliers and branch cutters.
In pop culture, we hear that the best drummers develop finger blisters that pop and bleed—see the doctor if you are one of those drummer heroes!
Avoid Breaking Blisters
The unbroken skin over the liquid of a blister maintains a buffer against infections. This means that you should try to keep blisters unbroken.
Most small blisters can heal naturally and do not require medical treatment. During healing time, keep the affected area washed and dry and the blister liquid can be reabsorbed into your body. Fight against the desire to pop the blister! Once popped, it can become infected. Staph infections can be deadly in these cases.
As the new skin grows quickly underneath the blister, the lymph and serum (a part of the blood) liquid in it will reabsorb, and the skin on top will dry and peel off on its own, leaving new skin in its place.In fact, a product called Nu Skin can be applied over a blister to keep it in tact while it is healing.
Again, do not "pop" the blister with a pin, a needle, a pencil point, or a kitchen knife. The unbroken skin over the liquid of a blister maintains a buffer against infections. This means that you should try to keep blisters unbroken.
How to Heal a Blister Easily
- Cover any small blisters with a dry adhesive dressing, like a large Band-Aid strip. Larger blisters should be covered with a gauze pad or dressing that you can then tape in place.
- If you have a blister in a position that is causing you pain or that makes it likely to burst (on the bottom of your foot or palm of your hand), its important to cover it with a soft dressing to pad and protect it. Then change the dressing daily.
- If a blister bursts open, take care to refrain from peeling off the burst skin from top of the blister. (This is very important in the case of very large blisters that occur on the legs in cases of diabetes and poor circulation. Peeling off this "dead" skin can allow infections to enter the open wound and can ultimately lead to necrosis [dead tissues] and even amputation of the leg. The most severe cases of cellulitis infections that occur in such blister infections can lead to death if untreated. Go to a doctor if you have a blister larger than a half dollar coin.)
- In the case of small blisters, simply press the area around the blister that has burst in order to rid the area of the fluid (lymph) inside of it.
- Next, cover the blister and the area around it with a dry, sterile (germ-free) dressing, such as gauze, and protect it from infection until it heals in a few days. You might use peroxide topically before applying the dressing.
Blisters Needing Medical Care
Beware of blisters on the skin of the gums, especially near the root of a tooth. These may indicate tooth abscesses (infections). See a dentist as soon as you can. Large blisters, second degree burn blisters and diabetic leg blisters need a medical practitioner's care as well. Some large blisters may rarely occur around the site of a broken bone and these blisters require a physician's care.
Blood Blisters are Different
Blood blisters should also be left alone to heal. They are caused when blood vessels and tissues under the skin (sub-dermal) are damaged. If a blood blister bursts, keep the area around it clean and dry, and protect it with a sterile dressing to prevent infections.
Blood blisters may be very painful and you can use an ice pack or a sack of frozen peas or corn on the area immediately after the injury that pinched a blood blister onto your skin.
Use the ice for 10 to 30 minutes at a time and rest the area 5 minutes between applications. The ice should not actually touch the skin, but should be wrapped in a towel. Direct ice can cause a type of burn to the already injured area..
Blisters that have become infected may be treated by a doctor with antibiotics. Blisters caused by a medical condition like diabetes - such as leg blisters - are treated by doctors in other ways. If in doubt, call your doctor.
- American College of Emergency Physicians First Aid Manual. 2016.
- Blisters: First Aid. Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-blisters/basics/art-20056691 Retrieved May 4, 2016.
- Fracture blisters - NCBI - NIH; CM Uebbing, 2011.
- Friction blisters. Pathophysiology, prevention and treatment. - NCBI; JJ Knapik. 1995.
- Blood blisters of the oral mucosa (angina bullosa haemorrhagica) - NIH; BM Deblauwe. 1994.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS