When to Pop a Blister

It is common to have a small fluid-filled pocket develop in the upper layers of your skin. It is called blister. The most common causes of getting blisters include burns, friction, allergic reactions to irritants, severe sunburn, and infection. In most cases, the fluid is absorbed and you don't have to pop the blister. New skin will form underneath the damaged layers. However, there are the conditions that you need to pop it to promote healing. Let's learn more about it.

When to Pop a Blister

Fluid in blisters usually helps protect the damaged skin, which prevents infections. But there certainly are situations when you may consider popping a blister. For instance, you may have to pop it when it is extremely painful or when it becomes further irritated. Moreover, you may pop a blister if:

  • It seems it will burst if you do not let the fluid out.
  • The blister will spread due to pressure.
  • You have it under your feet, on the palms, or over joints.
  • It is larger than an inch in diameter.
  • It interferes with your daily life, such as walking.

Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines, and you should see your doctor if you have a blister due to burn. For blood blisters, be sure to talk to your doctor before you even consider popping it.

How to Pop a Blister by Yourself

Knowing when to pop a blister is important, and when you are sure, you need to do it in the right way. Here is what to do:

1. Wash Your Hands First

Start by washing your hands with soap and warm water. Be sure to lather your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Do not use scented soap to avoid contaminating your hands with chemical irritants.

2. Wash the Affected Area

Use soap and water, antiseptic or rubbing alcohol to wash your blistered area carefully. Betadine or other antiseptics will work just fine – pour it over the affected area and clean it without applying too much of pressure.

3. Get the Needle

You can use a blade or a needle to pop a blister. Opt for single-use, pre-packaged sterile blades or needles, or you can use the regular sewing needle after soaking it in rubbing alcohol first.

4. Pop It Carefully

It is a good idea to lance the blister in at least a couple of places. You can start by popping the blister on the sides close to the bottom edge. Do not just try to thread through your blister because it increases the risk of infection.

5. Drain It Right

If you pop it right, the blister will start draining naturally. You can apply some gentle pressure to make it easy to drain. Put pressure from the top of the blister and move to the bottom. Never tear the blister while applying pressure.

6. Leave the Dead Skin in Place

You should avoid removing any dead skin after popping because it increases the risk of infection and may also irritate surrounding healthy skin. The best thing is to wash the site, apply some antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage. Be sure to change your bandage at least once a day.

Do Not Ignore Any Signs of Infection

Watch for the signs of infection if you pop the blister by yourself. You may have developed an infection if you notice the blistered area becoming red and swollen. You may also have a fever and experience serious pain as well. If you notice a yellowish discharge called pus oozing from the blistered area, this may also indicate an infection. Talk to your doctor immediately for proper treatment.

How to Treat a Blister Without Popping It

Although knowing when to pop a blister is important, usually you can treat it without having to pop it. Here are some treatment options to consider.

1. Cold Compresses

Applying a cold compress for no more than 10 minutes will help alleviate pain and swelling. It also works great for blood blisters. Be very careful when applying a cold compress because you really do not want to pop the blister too soon. Similarly, you should cover your healed blister with a cold washcloth to prevent itching. 

2. Blister Plaster

You can develop a blister by wearing new shoes or wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Joggers and runners may also have to deal with blisters occasionally due to the friction of their shoes rubbing on their heels. Using a blister plaster will help in this case and trigger healing. It also reduces pain by absorbing any moisture in the blister.

3. Aloe Vera

Using aloe vera is a natural remedy to treat blisters. It works great for fever and blood blisters. Cut the tip off an aloe vera plant and apply the liquid directly to your blister. This promotes the growth of new cells and reduces pain and swelling too. You will have to use this remedy for several days to see good results.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, the use of apple cider vinegar promotes healing and prevents infection as well. Make a mixture by adding three teaspoons of castor oil to a half cup of vinegar and rub it directly over your blister several times a day for good effects.

5. Fresh Air

If it is not necessary to pop the blister according to the answer to "when to pop a blister", you can leave your blister uncovered and expose it to the fresh air, which will help accelerate healing. It ensures that your blister dries up quickly. Be sure to wear the right pair of shoes when you have a blister on your foot. Cover your blister with a bandage when you want to go out because it will protect your blister from dirt.

6. Cucumber

A slice of chilled cucumber placed directly on your blood blister will help immensely with pain and swelling. It reduces inflammation and helps with healing. The remedy works mainly because cucumbers are packed with silica that strengthens your connective tissue. Be sure to apply the slices of cucumber on your blistered area several times a day for good results.