Blisters - Treatment 

Treating blisters 

Most blisters heal naturally and do not require medical attention.

As new skin grows underneath the blister, your body will slowly reabsorb the fluid in the blister and the skin on top will dry and peel off.

Friction blisters

The unbroken skin over a blister provides a natural barrier to infection. It's important that the skin remains intact to avoid infection.

As tempting as it may be, try not to pierce a blister with a needle because it could lead to an infection or slow down the healing process. Allow the skin to peel off on its own after the skin beneath has healed.

You may choose to cover small blisters with a plaster. Larger blisters can be covered with a gauze pad or dressing that can be taped in place.

Painful blisters, or those in positions where they are likely to burst, such as on the sole of your foot, can be covered with a soft dressing to cushion and protect them. Change the dressing daily and wash your hands before touching the blister to avoid infection.

Burst blisters

If a blister has burst, do not peel off the dead skin on top of the blister. Allow the fluid inside to drain and then cover the blister and the area around it with a dry, sterile dressing to protect it from infection until it heals.

Hydrocolloid dressings, available over the counter from pharmacies, have been shown to help prevent discomfort and encourage healing.

If the top layer of dead skin from a burst blister has already rubbed off, do not pick at the edges of the remaining skin. Follow the advice above to protect it from infection.

If the blister is on your foot, avoid wearing the shoes that caused it, at least until it heals.

Read more about applying plasters and other dressings.

Blood blisters

Blood blisters should be left to heal naturally. If a blood blister bursts, keep the area clean and dry. Protect it with a sterile dressing to prevent infection.

Blood blisters are often painful. Applying an ice pack to the affected area immediately after the injury can help relieve the pain (a bag of frozen vegetables works just as well). Between 10 and 30 minutes should help.

To stop the ice touching your skin directly, place a towel over the affected area before applying the ice pack.

Medical conditions

If your blisters are caused by a medical condition, such as chickenpoxherpes or impetigo, your GP will be able to advise you about how to treat the underlying condition.

Page last reviewed: 30/04/2013

Next review due: 30/04/2015

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See your GP if you have a blister that becomes infected. They may prescribe antibiotics.

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