A blister is a small pocket of fluid that appears in the upper layer of the skin.
It’s considered a defence mechanism of the body as it forms in between the outer layer of the skin, known as “epidermis” and the next layer, known as “dermis”.
The fluid’s main function is to serve as a “cushion”, protecting the skin tissue underneath until it heals and new skin is recreated.
Serum is a clear liquid that builds up within the gap. In other cases, the blister is filled with plasma, also known as “blister water” or blood in case of “blood blisters”.
Blisters could be quite painful in some cases.
It helps to understand how to prevent them altogether and how to treat them effectively when they happen.
This article will cover everything you need to know about blisters causes, prevention, and treatment.
What Causes Blisters
Blisters are commonly caused by burning, chemical exposure, freezing, infection, or friction resulting from forceful rubbing.
Forceful Rubbing or Friction
Intense rubbing can certainly cause a blister, so does skin friction if continued long enough.
Friction blisters mostly happen on the hands and feets as such extremities are susceptible while performing intensive repetitive motions such as running or walking.
Foot blisters most commonly result from wearing a new pair of shoes or wearing tight uncomfortable shoes.
First and second degree burns, and even sunburns, may cause blisters. Frostbite triggers skin tissue damage which leads to hands and feet blisters.
Pinching or Crushing
Blood blisters are usually formed when a minute blood vessel, close to the skin surface, breaks and the blood leaks into the gap between the layers of the skin.
This could happen if the skin is pinched, crushed, or aggressively squeezed.
Prevention of Blisters
Blisters on the feet could be easily prevented by wearing well-fitting and comfortable running shoes.
Stiffer shoes, including dress shoes and high heels, present a larger risk for having blisters.
Blisters are more likely to develop on a moist skin. Wearing the types of socks that manage moisture and frequent sock changing could greatly reduce the chance of blisters.
While running or playing other sports, special sports socks help in keeping the feet drier which helps in preventing blisters.
It’s highly recommended to tap a friction-reducing interface or a protective layer of padding between the irritated area and the footwear to prevent blister formation.
Moleskin, bandages, and tapes must be applied to the foot on daily basis because they have a very high coefficient of friction.
In order to prevent hands friction blisters, gloves must be worn when using tools such as a pickaxe or shovel, or doing manual work like gardening. Talcum powder is a lubricant that could be used to reduce friction between skin and clothes in the short run. Be cautious, however, that his type of lubricant could increase friction in the long run as it absorbs moisture.
First of all, the irritation must be stopped immediately.
Most blisters heal naturally without medical intervention.
As new skin is created beneath the blister, the fluid within it will be slowly reabsorbed by the body and the skin layer on top will peel off and dry.
A bandage may be placed over the blister in order to protect it. Meanwhile, some sort of emollient could be used to help keep the skin soft as it heals.
Soaking the blister in warm water is an excellent temporary pain relief during the healing process.
It’s crucial to keep the blister unbroken and intact. The unbroken skin over the blister is a natural barrier to infection.
In fact, blisters should be allowed to break naturally on their own after the underneath skin has healed.
Blisters are liable to occasional infections.
Infection could be treated by using antibiotics moderately if prescribed by a physician.
There is an increased concern about MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and other types of serious infections caused by blisters.
It’s very important to diagnose such infections in a very early stage and treat them immediately.
Is it better to pop a blister or leave it?
To relieve blister-induced pain, the fluid should be drained while leaving the overlying skin intact.
To accomplish this, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands and the blister with warm water and soap
- Lather the blister with rubbing alcohol or iodine
- Sterilize a sharp needle by wiping it with rubbing alcohol
- Use the needle to form punctures the blister
- Aim for various spots near the edge of the blister
- Allow the fluid to drain, while leaving the overlying skin in place
- Apply an antibiotic liniment to the blister and cover it with a gauze pad or bandage
- After several days, cut away the dead skin using scissors and tweezers that are sterilized with rubbing alcohol.
- Cover with a bandage after applying more ointment