Most everyone has experienced a blister at one time or another. Blisters occur when friction causes the top layers of skin to separate, allowing fluid to accumulate.

Blisters often form on the feet, but they can develop anywhere on the body. The likely culprit behind blister formation is a pair of new or poorly fitted shoes, moisture or friction from repetitive motion.

When it comes to blisters, prevention is key. Keep feet dry by choosing the right kind of socks. Look for those labeled “moisture-wicking,” usually a wool blend designed to keep feet dry when running or participating in active sports.
Nylon is another good choice, but stay away from cotton since this fabric tends to absorb moisture and hold it against the skin. The same goes for clothing. Select moisture-wicking fabrics and avoid tight fitting or cotton items. Use gloves to protect hands.

Other ways to protect skin from blisters are to reduce friction by applying petroleum jelly or powder and by covering vulnerable areas with adhesive moleskin or bandages.

Once a blister appears, try to leave it intact and let it heal. Although painful, blisters are not serious and usually disappear within one to two weeks, as long as no complications arise.

Dermatologists recommend against popping blisters because this can lead to infection. Cover the blister loosely, leaving a little room so the bandage doesn’t put pressure on the blister. If the blister is on the bottom of the foot or in an area where it could rub, use a doughnut-shaped adhesive bandage with a hole in the center.

Occasionally, a blister is so large or painful; popping it is the only logical course of action. In these cases, using a needle that has been sterilized with alcohol, puncture the bottom of the blister several times along the lower edge to allow the fluid to drain. Do NOT remove the skin of the blister. Once it drains, gently clean the area with soap and water; apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly and cover with a clean bandage.

Contact a dermatologist if you notice any signs of infection around the blister including redness, swelling, or drainage.

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