A blister is a small pocket of fluid contained in the outer layers of the skin. A blister is caused by irritation of the skin from excessive rubbing, burning, freezing, chemicals toxic to the skin, or infection. It can contain blood, serum, or pus within it. If you are athlete you are probably very familiar with blisters. They commonly appear at places that get repeated irritation. The location of blisters depends on the activity you are doing. If you are a golfer, weight lifter or baseball player the most common places to get blisters are on your hands, a skier or snowboarder on your shins or lower legs, and a runner or walker on your feet.

Once people realize that they have a blister the most common issue is not knowing what to do. Do I pop the blister or do I leave it alone? There are those who say a blister should not be popped because it can get infected. Other people say pop a blister as soon as it forms otherwise it will keep getting bigger. I understand the confusion when deciding to pop or not to pop a blister. An argument can certainly be made for each choice. Most health care practitioners, such as a podiatrist, would counsel you to drain the blister as long as you do it in a clean and sterile manner. If you need to drain a blister because you are going to continue the type of activity that caused the blister, follow the following guidelines to do it safely

1) Gather the following supplies: washcloth, soap, sterile needle, gauze, antibacterial ointment, Band-Aid

2) Clean the area over and around the blister with a washcloth, soap and water.

3) Hold the sterile needle in your stronger hand. Have the gauze ready in your other hand. Puncture the blister with the sterile needle and apply pressure with the gauze pad. Continue the pressure until all the liquid is drained from the blister. Do not remove the “roof” of the blister.

4) Properly dispose of the needle and gauze pad.

5) Apply a thin layer of topical antibacterial ointment to the area where the blister was located.

6) Put a Band-Aid over the area to help prevent infection.

7) Figure out what caused the blister to form and find a way to stop the irritation from continuing. This will prevent additional blisters from forming.

Blisters are very common, especially on people who are active. Most blisters are easy to treat but if you feel uncomfortable treating it on your own, or think that your blister may be infected, contact your local podiatrist for a professional opinion.

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