Blisters

Blisters should heal on their own within a week. They can be painful while they heal, but you shouldn’t need to see a GP.

How you can treat a blister yourself

To relieve any pain, use an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel) on the blister for up to 30 minutes.

To protect the blister and help prevent infection:

Do

  • cover blisters that are likely to burst with a soft plaster or dressing
  • wash your hands before touching a burst blister
  • allow the fluid in a burst blister to drain before covering it with a plaster or dressing

Don’t

  • burst a blister yourself
  • peel the skin off a burst blister
  • pick at the edges of the remaining skin
  • wear the shoes or use the equipment that caused your blister until it heals

Your pharmacist can help with blisters

To protect your blister from becoming infected, your pharmacist can recommend a plaster or dressing to cover it while it heals.

A hydrocolloid dressing can help reduce pain and speed up healing.

Check if you have a blister

Don’t ignore an infected blister. Without treatment it could lead to a skin or blood infection.

See a GP if:

  • a blister is very painful or keeps coming back
  • the skin looks infected - it’s red, hot and the blister is filled with green or yellow pus
  • a blister is in an unusual place - such as your eyelids, mouth or genitals
  • several blisters have appeared for no reason
  • a blister was caused by a burn or scald, sunburn, or an allergic reaction

Treatment from your GP

Your GP might burst a large or painful blister using a sterilised needle. If your blister is infected, they may prescribe antibiotics.

They can also offer treatment and advice if blisters are caused by a medical condition.

How to prevent blisters

Blisters develop to protect damaged skin and help it heal. They are mostly caused by friction, burns and skin reactions, such as an allergic reaction.

Blood blisters appear when blood vessels in the skin have also been damaged. They are often more painful than a regular blister.

If you regularly get friction blisters, some simple changes may help:

  • wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes
  • gradually break in new shoes
  • wear thicker wool socks during exercise
  • dust talcum powder in your socks if you get sweaty feet
  • wear protective gloves when you exercise or if you use tools at work
Conditions that can cause blisters

Call 111

If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.