Blister Care

Overview

Most blisters heal on their own. Home treatment may help decrease pain, prevent infection, and help heal large or broken blisters.

  • Bandage small blisters.

    A small, unbroken blister about the size of a pea, even a blood blister, will usually heal on its own. Use a loose bandage to protect it. Avoid the activity that caused the blister.

    If a small blister is on a weight-bearing area like the bottom of the foot, protect it with a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad. Leave the area over the blister open.

  • Don't drain a blister unless you really need to.

    It's best not to drain a blister at home. But when blisters are painful, some people do drain them. If you do decide to drain your blister, be sure to follow these steps:

    • Wipe a needle with rubbing alcohol.
    • Gently puncture the edge of the blister.
    • Press the fluid in the blister toward the hole so it can drain out.

    Don't drain a blister of any size if:

    • You have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart disease. Draining a blister increases your risk of infection.
    • You think your blister is from a contagious disease, such as chickenpox. If you drain that type of blister, the virus can spread to another person.
  • Clean and cover a torn or drained blister.

    If a blister has torn open, or after you have drained a blister:

    • Gently wash the area with clean water. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
    • Don't remove the flap of skin over a blister unless it's very dirty or torn or there is pus under it. Gently smooth the flap over the tender skin.
    • You may cover the blister with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
  • Watch for signs of infection.

    Watch for a skin infection while your blister heals. Signs of infection include:

    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the blister.
    • Red streaks leading from the blister.
    • Pus draining from the blister.
    • A fever.
  • Try other home remedies if you have itching.

    One way to help decrease itching is to keep the itchy area cool and wet. Apply a cloth that has been soaked in ice water. Or get in a cool tub or shower.

    You can also try a paste of baking soda mixed with water or a nonprescription lotion such as calamine lotion.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

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