Many of us, especially those with an affinity towards the outdoors or athletics, have faced the dilemma of whether or not to pop a particularly vicious blister that makes walking difficult. But before you succumb to the temptation, know that an improperly popped blister can easily get infected and be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. A blister is essentially a small fluid-filled sac formed between the outer layers of skin (mainly on the soles of feet) due to excessive abrasion resulting from anything from badly chosen socks to logging too many miles in one stretch. The fluid in an unaffected blister may be clear plasma or blood (in which case it is called a blood blister), whereas an infected blister gets filled with pus.
Treatment of a blister is very simple. The choice lies in whether to pop it or ignore it. For the most part, a blister left unattended (or covered with a bandage or special blister pad) will heal on it’s own. If you are outdoors this is the course of action we recommend. By covering up a blister with a specialized blister relief pad, it will protect the area from moisture, dirt, and germs that could otherwise lead to an infection.
In the case the blister does become infected, or you notice excessive inflammation, pus formation or swelling around the area, it is advised to seek professional medical help immediately. If, on the other hand, you simply don’t feel like waiting around and want to pop the thing, the following steps are to be followed to avoid potential infection.
- Wash the area and your hands with plenty of warm water and soap (don’t be stingy with the sterilization) beforehand.
- Pat dry the blistered surface completely and proceed to sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol.
- Take a deep relaxing breath (don’t freak out over pricking yourself) and puncture the edge of the blister.
- Gently squeeze the fluid out and onto a tissue till the blister sac is completely drained. This will leave behind a saggy pouch of skin which must not be pulled off unless it is very dirty and cannot be left on.
- Wash the area with soap and water and smooth the pouch of skin over the tender area.
- Apply an antiseptic ointment and cover up the area with a band aid. Remove the band aid at night to let the area air out.
It must be noted that the blister must not be popped under any circumstance if you suspect it to be a result of any sort of contagious disease since till will lead to contamination of more persons as the infection may spread via aerosols. Heart patients and those suffering from cancer, diabetes, etc. must not attempt to pop the blister since there is an elevated risk of infection.
As always, since prevention is better than cure, it would be advisable to avoid the risk of blisters by following steps to eliminate or reduce the friction that your skin is subject to. The following are simple yet effective measures to do the same.
- The first step to prevention of blisters lies in the type of socks you choose. Avoid cotton socks (which soak up moisture and are more likely to cause blisters) and go for materials which cause less moisture build-up, like nylon socks or wicking socks.
- If you are in for a long session of jogging or running, use foot powders and creams which reduce friction.
- Procure shoes that are suitable for your feet and allow easy breathability and motion of feet.