How to Pop a Blister
Blisters are generally caused by friction against the skin, allowing a fluid build-up under the section of skin being rubbed. Many doctors and dermatologists wanting to prevent scarring and infection will recommend that you do not pop your blister, but if you really want to pop it, follow these steps to do it safely.
Deciding to Pop
Know doctors’ recommendations.Doctors usually caution against popping a blister because that blister is technically padding an area of damaged skin underneath and covering a sterile environment. Popping the blister opens up your skin to infection.
Assess your circumstances.Ask yourself if you should pop this blister in this circumstance.
- Where is your blister located? Popping a blister on your foot is generally safer than popping a cold sore on your lip or inside your mouth. Cold sores and blisters inside your mouth should be evaluated by a doctor.
- Does it look infected? If your blister has yellowish pus oozing from it, it is likely infected and you should see a doctor.
- Is the blister interfering with your daily life, such as preventing you from walking? If the answer is yes, and you can safely pop it, this might be the right circumstance.
Do not pop blisters from a sunburn or other burn.If you have sunburn blisters, this is a second-degree burn and is severe enough that you should see a doctor. Do not pop sunburn blisters – they are protecting the skin underneath as it regenerates after the burn. See a doctor for treatment and protect your skin from the sun while it heals.
- Second degree burns such as those that result in blisters are to be treated gently, with a prescription burn cream. See your doctor for the prescription and to learn how to care for the sunburn blisters.
Leave blood blisters alone.A blood blister, sometimes called black heel or black palm, is a reddish-purple-black discolouration under the skin from broken blood vessels below the epidermis in the dermal layer of skin. Friction over bony prominences, such as the back of the heel, lead to shearing of the blood vessels and the release of blood into the skin.
- Blood blisters indicate a deeper level of injury. They generally resolve on their own but some people mistake them for melanoma so, if you are unsure, consult your doctor.
Preparing to Pop
Wash your hands.Use soap and warm water, lathering your hand for 20 seconds before rinsing.
- Use regular unscented soap to wash your hands. This will prevent any chemical irritants from exacerbating the blister site and prevent transmission of any bacteria from your hands to the fragile skin area once the blister is popped.
Wash the blistered area with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or antiseptic.
- Antiseptics such as betadine are available at most pharmacies. However be careful with betadine as it can temporarily stain the skin and can stain clothing and other surfaces.
- Gently pour the betadine or rubbing alcohol over the blister and surrounding area. If you are washing the site with soap and water, use a regular unscented soap, lather your hands, gently wash the affected area but be careful to not apply pressure so you do not pop the blister, and rinse well.
Prepare the needle or blade.It is best to use a single use, pre-packaged, sterile needle or scalpel blade, often found in pharmacies and medical supply stores.
- If you choose to use a sewing needle from home, soak it in rubbing alcohol first.
- Do not insert the needle or blade into a flame, which gives off carbon particles that would irritate the skin and possibly increase infection.
Popping the Blister
Pop it on the sides.Lance the blister in 2 or 3 places where gravity will help it drain. Do this by popping the blister on each side, near its bottom edge.
- Do not try the blister-threading method, which proposes literally threading a needle and thread through your blister. This method offers an increased risk of infection.
Drain it.Let the blister drain naturally with gravity or gently apply pressure in a downwards fashion, from the top of the blister to the bottom where you lanced it, letting the fluid drain through the holes.
- Do not push forcefully or tear at the blister to release the fluid. You may cause trauma to the skin underneath.
Do not tear away the skin.Pulling at the dead skin that was once your blister can irritate surrounding healthy skin and leave your skin open to infection. Simply wash the site with soap and water or antiseptic, then cover with a bandage.
Apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage.This prevents bacteria from entering the site and allows for a relief of pressure on the blister area.
- Reapply the ointment and change your bandage every day until the skin has completely healed, which may take about a week.
- If you're not too concerned with infection, you can apply Vaseline or Aquaphor instead of an antibiotic ointment.
Soak your body, feet, or hands periodically after the blister has been popped.Epsom salts help to further draw out fluid. For the next few days, put a half a cup of epsom salts in warm water and soak your foot or have an Epsom salt bath for 20 minutes once a day.
Watch for signs of infection.Any increase in redness, swelling, pain, or pus indicate a possible infection and you may need to see your doctor and get antibiotics.
- You may have an infection if the area around the blister increases in redness and swelling. You may have a fever above your normal temperature of 37C. If the area is more painful than having the blister itself and accompanies any of these other symptoms, you may have an infection.
- Pus is a yellowish discharge that oozes from an infected site. If your blister or popped blister is weeping this yellowing discharge, see a doctor for a potential infection.
Prevent further blisters.Remove pressure from bony areas. Use doughnut hole pressure pads as needed. If you are a runner, you may need to consider getting a new pair of shoes or socks that fit appropriately to reduce friction and have moisture management properties.
- If you are a rower, wear gloves specific for water sports or fashion an oar grip out of tape to decrease friction against your oar.
QuestionWhat happens if the skin underneath is tender when I peel the blister off?
Doctor of MedicineDoctor of MedicineExpert AnswerThe best thing is not to peel of the blister or the skin of a blister. But if you have, then apply an ointment like Vaseline or an antibiotic ointment to the area and cover with a soft bandage. You can also take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen if the area is sore.Thanks!
QuestionIs a regular blister different from a gymnastics blister?
Doctor of MedicineDoctor of MedicineExpert AnswerA gymnastics blister is usually caused by friction. These tend to have less fluid in them, and aren't usually infected. The best thing is to try to prevent these from happening by watching your technique and using proper precautions. Consider trying hand grips, special protective creams, using chalk, or tape.Thanks!
QuestionMy blister hurts where I put the needle in. Does that mean I have an infection?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it is a very sharp, stabbing pain, you may have pierced the skin beneath. If it is an ache or burning pain, you might have an infection.Thanks!
QuestionMy blister happened because I wore tight shoes. Should I pop it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOnly pop the blister if it hinders your day-to-day life. For example, if it prevents you from walking comfortably, you should definitely pop it. The longer you leave a hurting blister on your foot, the worse the pain will get and the larger it will grow.Thanks!
QuestionI got my blister from plucking an instrument. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCover it with a bandaid and take a break from doing much plucking till it's healed.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I pop a blister safely with no products?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApply heat to the blister to make it easier to pop. You should apply an anti-bacterial solution before popping to ensure you don't get an infection.Thanks!
QuestionMy blisters were caused by ant bites and can last more than a month. Is this normal? Is this safe to pop?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should see a doctor and have them assess the situation.Thanks!
QuestionThe skin around my popped blister has turned white is it normal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. That's just dead skin, most likely.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if it feels like I pulled a muscle in my foot?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are lots of muscles and tendons in your foot, all of which can be strained or pulled. Give your foot an ice pack, some rest and a massage -- be nice to it.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do blisters cause liquid to come out when they are popped?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf the blister is a blister caused by friction and rubbing, then it's water which came out from it.Thanks!
What do you do if your blister pops when you stand up?
I popped a blister several times but nothing came out what should I do?
What if I have a blister in my ankle? What should I do?
- Some blisters are the result of a medical condition, such as pemphigus, pemphigoid, or an infection such as bullous impetigo. If you have blisters that occur without a clear cause, many blisters, or blisters that come back, you should see your doctor.
- Be sure that everything (hands, needle, surrounding area, area of blister) is sterile to prevent infection.
- Make sure your needle us clean before using it. It might cause an infection.
- You can also see your doctor, dermatologist, or nurse practitioner to aspirate (or drain) your blister with a sterile needle. This is particularly helpful for large blisters.
Sources and Citations
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Video: Large blood blister drainage
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