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Skin Problems

Blisters

Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Blisters are usually the result of persistent or repeated rubbing against the skin. Some illnesses, such as shingles, cause blister-like rashes (See Shingles). Burns can also blister the skin. See Burns.

Prevention

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  • Avoid shoes that are too tight or that rub on your feet.

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands when doing heavy chores.

Home Treatment

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  • If a blister is small and closed, leave it alone. Protect it from further rubbing by applying a loose bandage. Avoid the activity or shoes that caused the blister to form.

  • If a small blister is in a weight-bearing area, protect it with a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad. Leave the area over the blister open.

  • If a blister is larger than 1 inch across, it is usually best to drain it. The following is a safe method:

    • Sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol.

    • Gently puncture the blister at the edge.

    • To drain the blister, press the fluid in the blister toward the hole you have made.

  • Once you have opened a blister, or if it has torn open:

    • Wash the area with soap and water.

    • Do not remove the flap of skin covering a blister unless it is very dirty or torn, or if pus is forming under the skin flap. Gently smooth the skin flap flat over the tender skin underneath.

    • Apply an antibiotic ointment and a sterile bandage. Do not use alcohol or iodine. They will delay healing.

    • Change the bandage once a day to reduce the chance of infection.

    • Remove the bandage at night to let the area dry.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If blisters form often and you do not know the cause.

  • If signs of infection develop:

    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness.

    • Heat or red streaks extending from the blister.

    • Discharge of pus.

    • Fever of 37.8°C (100°F) or higher with no other cause.

  • If you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease and blisters are forming on your hands, feet, or legs.

    Calluses and Corns

    Calluses are hard, thickened skin on parts of the foot that are exposed to friction. Corns are caused by pressure on the skin from the inside, such as from a bone.

    Soak your feet in warm water, and rub the callus or corn with a pumice stone. You may need to do this for several days until the thickened skin is gone.

    Do not try to cut or burn off corns or calluses. If you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, talk with your doctor before attempting to remove troublesome corns or calluses.

 

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