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Caring for blisters

A Physician's Comments on Blisters


K6a patient "My daughter has had thick callouses that we have managed to shave down with a callous remover and she does not really complain that it hurts. However, recently, she developed a blister on the bottom of her foot on top of a creased area. She has complained that it hurts but limits her complaining because of her fear of me touching it to do something about it. It's right smack on the bottom of her foot and I see her limping sometimes. In my past experience, early on, when she had other blisters I would pop them with a pin and let them dry out. In this case, she won't let me near it because it hurts and no way she will let me pop it. Any recommendations as to what I should do?"


This email from Dr. Sancy Leachman, MD, PhD was directed to the parent's question above in helping a young child with a painful blister, but it has good information for all ages on blister care.

"Relieving the pressure of the blister (i.e. letting the fluid out) while leaving the roof of the blister intact to help with healing will reduce the pain significantly. You can begin to train children at a fairly early age (4 to 6 years) to do the popping. Remember to always use a clean/sterile needle or clipper. Each child is different and as a parent you will know best whether the child is ready to learn to do this. I think you will find the child trusts their own ability with the needle more than trusting you to make the cut. Sometimes you need to open a little window in the blister in order for the fluid to keep draining - otherwise with just a pin, it closes back up again. The roof of the blister is not innervated - it doesn't have any living nerves in it. The nerves are in the skin below -- that is what is so tender -- so poking a hole in the blister shouldn't hurt too much. A child won't believe you without testing it. The other thing that might help is to soak the blister before pricking or cutting it to soften it - the downside of that is that if it doesn't get drained, it might make it more painful and more swollen. You can always visit a dermatologist or pediatrician who will restrain the child, but frankly, I think that is probably more traumatic and would not be worth the pain relief. The major thing to watch for when a blister is really tender is to assure that there is no element of infection. If a red streak is coming out from it, if fever, chills start, or if the child starts acting irritable, you need to see a doctor quickly because it suggests that the infection has spread into the system and can be quite serious. I hope this is helpful." (May 2009)

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