Should You Pop a Blister?

Blisters are considered one of the most uncomfortable body defenses around. These small pockets of fluid form under the skin as a way to create a cushion in areas where there is excessive pressure or abrasion. Blisters are common on the hands from gripping items a certain way and on the feet from pressure points caused by shoes. The blister gives the underlying skin a chance to heal by filling with liquid to create a cushion against whatever is irritating the spot.

Should You Pop a Blister?

In answering the question, you must first look at the cause of the blister. Medical professionals have different opinions about popping blisters that are caused by burns. Some believe that it can help alleviate pressure on a sensitive area where tissue has been damaged; while others believe it should be left in place to allow the skin to properly heal on its own. Most blisters do not come from burns but instead from pressure applied to a certain area. First and foremost, an individual should never attempt to pop a blister on their own. Incorrectly doing this can cause healing to slow down and open the area up to potential infection.

The medical community recommends that if you are unable to have a blister properly popped by a local professional, simply cleanse the area with soap and water and use a medicated ointment along with a sterile dressing to give it the opportunity to go away on its own within 5 to 7 days. Additionally, individuals who suffer from certain health conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, venous ulcers, or have a low functioning immune system should never choose to pop a blister.

The next consideration to take when deciding whether or not you should pop a blister is the location of the blister. Some can be difficult to function with especially if they are in an area like the palm of your hand where you continually need to touch something. Carefully popping these blisters may be an important task because having the blister actually hinders your ability of performing day-to-day tasks such as your job or even walking. Popping the blister will help reduce pressure and friction but will also be painful for the first 24 to 48 hours.

Risks of Popping a Blister

Blisters are an inconvenience for any person, and this is what drives us to want to pop them. In areas such as around the foot, blisters can be particularly painful because they make it difficult to wear shoes and walk. The idea of having to wait 1 to 5 days for it to heal on its own is not one that most patients receive well. Areas such as the foot are also more prone to infection because there is plenty of sweating and spread of bacteria during the day in their natural environment.

Blisters that remain clear and pink are not infected. However, those that cause an increase in swelling and pain or start to fill with yellow or green pus are considered infected and do need medical attention. Choosing a topical antiseptic or taking oral antibiotics is your first line of defense against any type of infection that can come from an open blister. Lastly, be aware of any red streaks around the blister. This is a medical condition called lymphangitis which can lead to a severe systemic reaction and possibly death. If you notice these red streaks around your blister it is critical that you seek medical attention immediately.

Is There Any Situation You Can Pop a Blister?

It is often necessary to pop a blister that has become painful and irritating. Popping it will help relieve the pressure and discomfort. However, there is a right and wrong approach to this. You should carefully apply pressure using a warm cloth to the blister so that it will naturally pop at the weakest part of the skin. Do not remove the skin from the blister. This should be left in place to help protect the area. Instead, apply an antibiotic ointment to the area and cover it with a bandage.

Minor blisters that are caused by burns can also be popped. This would be any first degree or lesser burn such as one you might receive from accidentally touching a hot pan for a minute. Severe burn blisters should be treated at a hospital where they will perform a process called deroofing which is the removal of the top layer of skin on the blister. They will then use a needle to create a small hole where the fluid can be drained out. For larger or more severe burns, aspiration may be needed.

Does It Hurt?

This depends on the size and severity of the blister. Most often, the pain associated with a blister is minimal and short. A blister is likely to be more painful if you remove the skin that stretched to accommodate the fluid sack. This leaves the area exposed and therefore is more painful.

Steps to Pop a Blister Yourself

Should you pop a blister? If you feel that you can or should pop a blister yourself, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Start with a sterile needle or small razor blade. Sterilization can be achieved by rinsing the item with alcohol or heating until it becomes red.
  2. Carefully cleanse the area around the blister, and your hands. Use the needle or blade to make a small hole where the fluid can drain. This fluid should be clear. If it is any other color, then seek medical attention immediately.
  3. Use pain relieving antibiotic cream to soothe the area. Cover it with a bandage to prevent bacteria and infection.
  4. Watch for signs of infection including red pus, poor healing, or red streaks leading away from the blister.
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