Blisters are fluid-filled sacs within the upper layers of the skin that are formed due to the forceful rubbing (friction), burning, freezing or chemical exposure or infection along the skin tissues. It usually forms because of the damage in the upper layers of the skin. The fluid accumulates underneath the skin to cushion the lower tissue layers in order to promote faster healing and to protect the tissues from further damage. The fluid that accumulates underneath the skin is usually composed of serum which is the part of the blood that remains after the red blood cells and other components are removed. However, when the blister becomes infected, they may be filled with blood.
First aid for blisters
Puncturing the blisters is not advisable, unless it is very painful and prevents you from being functional. The unbroken skin acts as a protective barrier from bacteria and viruses that may infect the affected site. Cover the affected site with a bandage instead to protect the blister from breaking out. If it is too large for an adhesive tape, you may use porous, plastic coated gauze which may absorb moisture.
Should you want to puncture the blister, you may follow the following tips:
- Ensure that your hands and the blisters are clean by washing them with soap and water. This is to make sure that you do not introduce any microorganism after puncturing the blister.
- Swab the blister with povidone iodine solution or rubbing alcohol.
- Sterilize the needle by wiping it with an alcohol swab. You may also sterilize the needle in the flame until it grows red. After the needle cools, use it to puncture the blister. Press the blister gently to let the fluid out and leave the loose skin in place. This will help the affected area heal faster and will prevent the entrance of the bacteria to the wound.
- Apply antibiotic ointment to the affected area and cover it with sterile dressing, bandage or a gauze pad.
- After several days, you may remove the dead skin by using sterilized tweezers or scissors.
When to see your doctor
Blisters would usually last three to seven days and may be taken care of using home treatments. However, you may need to contact your health care provider in case the following occurs:
- Painful blister
- Blisters that you think are infected
- If it does not resolve in seven days or it keeps coming back
- Blisters in unusual places (eyelids, inside your mouth)
- If they appear after sunburns, burns or scalds and allergic reactions
Web MD. Understanding Blisters. Retrieved on June 17,2014 from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-blister-treatment