Caring for blisters

Blisters have been a common issue among athletes and active individuals and can result to intense pain depending on their depth, size and location. If not properly treated, blisters can cause tearing of the neighboring skin tissue, bleeding, infection and increasing pain. Nevertheless, proper and early care of blisters can minimize the pain and impairment of the skin as well as allow the individual to resume activity.

What are the possible causes?

Blisters are brought about by friction and shearing forces. The friction causes the skin layers to separate from one another and end up filled with clear fluid or blood. They are usually found on the feet and hands. The friction from a new shoe that rubs on the foot or by an object rubbing across the skin can also trigger their development.

Blisters

The blisters form as hot spots. Initially, the area is tender to the touch and later turns red and irritated.

The blisters form as hot spots. Initially, the area is tender to the touch and later turns red and irritated. In friction continues, the skin layers separate and become filled with fluid. Remember that it is the pressure from the fluid that triggers pain since it stimulates the nerves below the skin.

Management of blisters

The appropriate treatment for blisters depends if it is intact or torn since each is treated differently. Remember that the skin over the blister serves as protection and must remain if possible. If the skin is removed, it exposes the underlying skin to potential infection as well as increasing the pain since the raw nerve endings are exposed.

The blister can be drained if it is filled with fluid. Since the pain from the blister is due to the pressure from the fluid buildup, draining can reduce the pain immediately. This can be done at home safely if proper measures are followed such as:

  • Cleanse the area thoroughly using an antiseptic soap
  • Sterilize a needle by heating it.
  • Apply gentle pressure on one side of the blister until the top skin rises on one side.
  • Create a small hole at the base of the elevated side of the blister large enough for the skin not to close.
  • Use a sterile gauze pad to carefully push the fluid out of the blister.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment on the blister to reduce the risk for infection.
  • Use an occlusive or air tight bandage to cover the blister
  • Regularly check and change dressings until the skin has fully healed.
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