Blisters often heal on their own within a week. They can be painful while they heal, but you will not usually need to see a GP.
How you can treat a blister yourself
To protect the blister and help prevent infection:
cover blisters with a soft plaster or padded dressing
wash your hands before touching a burst blister
allow the fluid in a burst blister to drain before covering it with a plaster or dressing
do not burst a blister yourself
do not peel the skin off a burst blister
do not pick at the edges of the remaining skin
do not wear the shoes or use the equipment that caused your blister until it heals
A pharmacist can help with blisters
To protect your blister from becoming infected, a pharmacist can recommend a plaster or dressing to cover it while it heals.
A hydrocolloid dressing (a moist dressing) can protect the blister, help reduce pain and speed up healing.
Check if you have a blister
Do not ignore an infected blister. Without treatment it could lead to a skin or blood infection.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- a blister is very painful or keeps coming back
- the skin looks infected – it's hot and the blister is filled with green or yellow pus
- the skin around the blister looks red, but this can be harder to see on darker skin tones
- a blister is in an unusual place – such as your eyelids, mouth or genitals
- several blisters have appeared for no reason
- a blister was caused by a burn or scald, sunburn, or an allergic reaction
Treatment from a GP
A GP might burst a large or painful blister using a sterilised needle. If your blister is infected, they may prescribe antibiotics.
They can also offer treatment and advice if blisters are caused by a medical condition.
How to prevent blisters
Blisters develop to protect damaged skin and help it heal. They're mostly caused by friction, burns and skin reactions, such as an allergic reaction.
Blood blisters appear when blood vessels in the skin have also been damaged. They're often more painful than a regular blister.
If you often get friction blisters on your feet or hands:
- wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes
- wear new shoes for short periods of time, until they're comfortable
- wear thick socks during exercise
- dust talcum powder in your socks if you get sweaty feet
- wear protective gloves when you exercise or if you use tools at work
Conditions that can cause blisters
- chickenpox – a childhood illness that causes itchy spots
- cold sores – small blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth, caused by a virus
- genital herpes – a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that most commonly affects the groin
- bullous impetigo – a bacterial skin infection
- pompholyx – a type of eczema
- scabies – a skin condition caused by tiny mites
- hand, foot and mouth disease – a viral infection that usually affects young children
Page last reviewed: 4 January 2021
Next review due: 4 January 2024