Treating blisters 

Most blisters heal naturally and don't require medical attention.

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

When to seek medical help

See your GP if you have blisters that:

  • you think are infected – an infected blister will be filled with yellow or green pus and may be painful, red and hot
  • are very painful
  • keep coming back
  • are in unusual places, such as on your eyelids or inside your mouth
  • are caused by severe sunburn, burns or scalds or an allergic reaction

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an infected blister.

If you have a large or painful blister, your GP may decide to decompress the blister under sterile conditions.

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

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're likely to burst, such as on the sole of your foot, can be covered with a soft dressing to cushion and protect them. It may help to cut the dressing into a 'doughnut' shape to fit around the blister and avoid placing pressure directly on it.

Change the dressing daily and wash your hands before touching the blister to avoid infection.

Burst blisters

If a blister has burst, don't peel off the dead skin on top of the blister. Allow the fluid inside to drain and wash it with mild soap and water. 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, don't 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.


Page last reviewed: 23/03/2015

Next review due: 23/03/2017