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The Right Way to Treat a Blister 
 
by Carrie McClain July 13, 2005

They hurt, they’re persistent, they’re delicate, and they make your life miserable. How can something the size of a pea do that? Blisters are the bane of sports enthusiasts, beginner runners, and the shoe obsessed everywhere.

New pair of Italian heels giving you trouble? Just started training for a 5K? I’ll bet people are full of advice on how to handle that new blister. Here’s what you really should do.

The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is on fire!

Well, not exactly, though it may sure feel that way. The ‘roof’ is the correct term for the skin covering your blister. If the blister is small and not painful, the best thing to do is leave the ‘roof’ intact. Don’t attempt to break or drain it. Just protect it with a bandage and some tape, and you’re good to go. Breaking that protective seal is a sure way to cause unnecessary pain and infection.

There is exception to this rule, however. If your blister is large, painful and red, it is best to break the skin and drain the wound.

There really isn’t more than one way to skin a cat.

The only way you should break a blister is the way that I am going to tell you. Doing anything else could result in infection and even more severe pain.

Gather your tools about you: a sewing needle, match, rubbing alcohol, cotton cloths, bandages, and medical adhesive tape.

First, clean your blister by swiping a cotton ball doused with rubbing alcohol on and around the injured area. Obviously make sure your blister is closed, because if there is a tear in the skin that you don’t know about…well, you will after you rub alcohol in it.

Next, hold the sewing needle in the flame of the match until it glows red. When it has cooled, swipe it with the alcohol swab to clean off the black char and kill any remaining bugs. Then take the needle and gently poke a small hole in the skin. You may need to press the blister with a cloth covered finger to make it pooch up enough to poke the roof without piercing the skin underneath. Remember not to take off the skin, just poke a hole through it.

After poking a small hole, use a sterile cotton pad or cotton ball to gently press on the blister in order to encourage the fluid to drain. Wipe away any excess fluid.

Finally, put a thin coat of anti-bacterial ointment over the blister and cover it with an adhesive bandage. Change the bandage every day or whenever it becomes dirty or wet. If you exercise, you may want to use the medical tape to tape over the bandage to help hold it in place.

Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t use our best judgment and tear the roof off the blister. If the protective layer is partially removed or there is already a tear in the blister skin, just remove the remaining roof with a pair of sterilized medical scissors. Then treat and bandage as stated above.

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