What’s the best way to heal a blister?
The first steps to treat any blister, whether it’s on your hand or your foot, is by protecting the damaged skin and preventing infection. Here’s how:
- Clean your hands and your blister
- Apply an antiseptic or antibiotic
- Apply a blister dressing or plaster (this should be sterile). Change this according to instructions. And monitor regularly for infection. Seek medical attention if you suspect infection: pus; Increased pain, redness or heat; red streaks extending from the blister.
If your blister was on your finger, that’s all you’d need to do. But treating blisters on feet requires a little more work, especially if you want it to stop hurting.
To stop your foot blister from hurting, you’ll also need effect some sort of deeper blister protection by:
- Reducing pressure somehow. For example, you could use a padding, cushion or a donut pad. Or simply wear shoes that don’t press on it if that’s possible.
- Reducing friction levels somehow. For example, the best way to do this is to use an ENGO blister patch. This will work for every blister except blisters between your toes.
What if it’s a blood blister?
Blood blister treatment is no different to the above, except there is more risk of infection. So you should be diligent in applying and reapplying your antiseptic liquid or antibiotic cream, your dressing or plaster, and monitoring it for signs of infection.
Choosing the Right Blister Dressing or Plaster
There are two blister dressings and plasters you can choose for your blister. The right one for your blister depends on your blister roof.
The last 3 blister stages require an island dressing or blister plaster as part of blister treatment
- If your blister roof is intact or torn, you’ll need an island dressing. The non-adherent “island” will soak up any blister fluid and not stick to the damaged skin.
- If your blister is deroofed and weepy, you can also use an island dressing. But the best one to use is a hydrocolloid blister plaster. These plaster provide the right kind of moist environment that encourages the skin to grow back over your raw blister base from the outside-in.
Getting it wrong
Unfortunately, foot blister treatment is a skill a lot of people get wrong. The most common mistakes I see include:
1) Not treating it at all and just putting one’s shoes back on
We know the majority of blisters will spontaneously pop if we just put our shoes back on and hope for the best as we keep running or walking. By not at least putting an island dressing over it, you’re greatly increasing the risk of it getting infected. At the very least, protect the damaged skin.
2) Not applying an antiseptic
Blisters exist in the outer layer of skin. But their bottom layer is ever-so-close to the blood vessel layer. With continued insult to our blister as you continue to stand, walk or run, or simply allow your shoes to press on it, you’re risking the skin eroding a little deeper and allowing infection to occur. Dab a bit of antiseptic or antibiotic cream on it to take infection out of the equation – especially if it’s a blood blister.
3) Putting tape over a blister – This is a big mistake because your blister roof may rip off as you remove your tape. The worst thing you can do it put tape over your blister because the weakened and damaged blister roof may be ripped off as you remove it.
4) Putting a hydrocolloid blister plaster on an intact or torn blister roof – This is a big mistake because these plasters are adhesive. Just like tape, as you go to remove it, you’ll probably tear your blister roof off and make the whole situation worse.
5) Neglecting pressure and friction management – Give your blister protection by taking some pressure off it and reducing friction levels over it. Without it, your skin will continue to be stretched back and forth with every step you take and this will be responsible for it continuing to refill, weep and hurt. These two strategies, which effectively amount to blister prevention, are the key to taking the pain out of your blister and helping it heal.
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