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29 June 2005

First aid for blisters

Blisters heal quickly once the pressure is relieved. We show you how.

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Blisters are usually the result of persistent friction or pressure against the skin, such as with a badly fitting or new shoe. They heal quickly once the pressure is relieved. Burns and certain illnesses such as chicken pox also cause blisters.

Home treatment for friction blisters

  • If the blister is small and not broken, do not burst it. This reduces the chance of infection. Carefully clean the blister with water and pat it dry. Then cover it with an adhesive bandage. A hydrocolloidal dressing will absorb fluid from the blister.
  • If the blister is broken, clean it with water and apply an antibiotic ointment or tea tree oil and cover the area with a bandage. Do not apply alcohol or iodine on an open blister, which will delay healing. Change the dressing daily or sooner if it becomes wet. Take the dressing off at night to let the wound dry.
  • If the blister is large and troublesome, it might be best to drain it. First, wash your hands. Wipe a needle and the blister with alcohol. Puncture the edge of the blister and gently press out the fluid. Leave the loose skin in place. Then apply an antibiotic ointment as stated above.
  • Make sure your tetanus injections are up to date.
  • Protect the blister from further rubbing. Avoid the activity or shoe that caused the blister. Protect a blister on the foot with a special moleskin blister plaster which covers the area around the blister, but leaves the blister uncovered. A pad of felt with a hole cut into the middle works just as well.

Prevention

  • Wear well-fitting shoes and break new shoes in slowly. Wear an acrylic sock liner under a heavier pair of socks. To reduce sweating, use foot or baby powder.
  • Recognise the places on your feet where you’re most likely to get blisters. Before a long walk, put some blister plasters on these areas, or use duct tape or Vaseline.

Call a doctor if:

  • There are signs of infection.
  • You have blisters that were not caused by friction and you have other symptoms.
  • You have diabetes or bad circulation
 

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