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Should You Pop A Blister?

By Dr. Jeffery Gregori, 08/19/22, 4:30PM PDT

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Local podiatrist Dr. Jeffery Gregori provides tips and advice on blister care

To Pop Or Not To Pop? That Is The Question

Dr. Jeffery Gregori Bay Area Foot Care

Dr. Gregori is a local podiatrist with 22 years of experience.

Written by Jeffery Gregori, D.P.M.

Most of us have had them....Blisters.  Whether its that new pair of shoes, or that charity event where we walk those oh-so-many-miles to support a worthy cause, blisters can happen. How to prevent a blister? Most people know about prevention. But, how to take care of one? We continue to try to educate on blister care.  

How do blisters develop

Blisters develop from damage and inflammation to the skin causing fluid to collect under the skin.  If the reaction of skin is so acute and severe that it causes instant swelling, then a blister develops. The blister is filled with “sterile” fluid.  That means the fluid is not infected or harmful. So, that is a key point when it comes to care of the blister (which is what we will talk about lower in this segment).  If the trauma to the skin is slower developing, then the body has time to recover, and no fluid is produced. New skin is laid down and slowly forms into a callus, which is thickening of the skin. So, as you can see, they can be the same mechanism of how they develop, but it depends on the acute onset of the trauma. Blisters can be associated with redness along the area, but most of the time is only associated with fluid underneath the skin.

Causes of Blisters

Mechanical Rubbing (shoes)
Trauma (Severe fractures)
Allergic Reactions (Poison oak/ivy)
Infection (Virus)
Acute Dermatitis (Eczema, Dyshidrotic Eczema, etc.)
Burns

How to care for a blister 

For these purposes here, when it comes to blisters caused by mechanical rubbing from shoes, it is first important to stop the cause of the blister. For other causes of a blister, please make an appointment with your primary physician.  When it comes to sports, simply change shoes or stop the activity. 

Steps of Care

  • Do not puncture the blister if you are not experiencing pain.

    Opening the blister increases your risk of infection. However, if you really need to drain the blister to gain some pain relief, then I recommend swabbing down the blisters with Iodine (Isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol if you are allergic to Iodine) and then wipe a needle with either iodine or isopropyl alcohol.  Then puncture 2-3 areas of the blister to drain the fluid. Avoid more than three punctures to keep the risk of secondary infection low. And by no means do you remove the top part of the blister for any reason. This will only open you up to more chances of infection and a longer healing process.   
     
  • Apply a thin layer of Vaseline over the blister.

    I am moving more towards avoiding use of any triple antibiotic ointment as more people are showing local allergic reactions to them more nowadays.  It is better to keep the areas slightly moist for better healing. 
     
  • Cover the blister with a proper size band aid so that the telfa (white part of the band aid) is in contact with the whole blister size.

I also recommend another cover such as mole skin or turf tape over the band aid for extra protection. It is ok to keep the bandage on for 2-3 days to allow the area to heal. The area will heal better if left covered vs air-drying. The least number of times you touch it, the less chance it will become infected. 

If you experience pain or itching

You can also use ice, topical analgesics, oral ibuprofen, or Tylenol for pain relief, if needed. The blister may also become itchy. When it does, use a cold compress or ice to the area just above it to reduce the sensation that is being caused by local inflammation.  You can also use lotions such as Calamine to help with the itching. 

When to return to your activity

Once you feel better and there is no pain along the area with pressure, then you can return to your activity.  Just make sure you have made the adjustments to your shoes and area of irritation, so it does not reoccur. 

Play on!!

 

About the author: Jeffery Gregori, DPM is a local podiatrist that has been in practice for 22 years.  He is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a member of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. He practices with Bay Area Foot Care, Inc with offices located in Danville and Pleasanton. You can contact the Bay Area Foot Care office in Danville, CA at 925-830-2929 or the BAFC Pleasanton, CA office at 925-556-4460.

Dr. Jeffery Gregori Bay Area Foot Care

Dr. Jeffery Gregori has offices in Danville and Pleasanton