Montana Public Radio

Dr. Starbuck Explains: Blisters

Mar 25, 2021

Hi! I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician. I’m here today with health tips for kids about blisters.

Ouch!

Blisters are little fluid filled pillows that form on your skin when your skin gets hurt in a certain kind of way. The fluid inside the pillows can be blood or pus or it can be clear and watery.

Blood blisters happen when you get banged or pinched really hard. Like stubbing your toe on a rock or pinching your finger in a door. The round purple mark that develops afterwards is a blood blister.

Pus happens when there is an infection under your skin. Insect bites or a splinter stuck for several days can cause a pus-filled blister.

For kids, the most common blister is a clear fluid filled one, and that’s the kind I’m going to talk about today.

How do kids get these blisters?

One, from a bad burn. Two, from rubbing and pressure, when you hike with shoes that don’t fit well or if you use a shovel or a rake for hours and you don’t wear gloves.

As kids know if you’ve ever gotten a blister, first the skin turns red. Then the watery little pillow appears. If you gently touch the pillow, it’s soft and fluid moves inside it.

What should kids do about a blister?

First, tell your parents. They need to know when anything unusual or different happens to your body.

Then, if your blister was caused by a burn, run cool water over it for a minute or so to calm down your skin. Then use two different plant medicines to help heal the burn blister. One is aloe gel, a squishy liquid that is inside aloe plant leaves. The other is calendula tincture, a liquid medicine made from bright yellow or orange calendula flowers. Your parents might have these natural medicines at home; if not, they can get them at a pharmacy or grocery store.

If your blister was caused by friction and pressure, you can also use cool water or even ice to soothe your skin. Then put on arnica, the best plant medicine for a friction blister. It’s made from the Arnica montana plant, and arnica speeds up the healing of injured skin.

When you use plant medicine for a blister, put it on three times a day until the blister is gone.

Something else that is very important about blisters: you must try hard not to pop them. The blister pillow is a cushion and a kind of band aid made of skin and water. It’s protecting the deeper layers of your skin and helping them heal. If you don’t pop your blister, it will dry up and disappear all by itself in a few days. You won’t even have a scar or a mark or anything to show that you ever had a blister.

Sometimes a blister hurts so much that your parents might have to pop it on purpose to relieve your pain. Or a blister might pop by mistake if you roll on it in bed or have to wear your hiking boots again the very next day. If a blister pops, the most important thing is to prevent germs from getting into the tender skin under the blister. Gently wash the skin around and under the popped blister with warm water and lots of soap. Then lightly press the flap of skin back over the top of the now popped blister. Pat it down, put calendula tincture over the whole blister area, then put a bandage over it. Keep an eye on the popped blister, to make sure it doesn’t get infected. It should heal up in two or three days.

Even though blisters are not so bad, it’s best to prevent them. Watch out for burning hot objects. Wear gloves when you use tools like rakes and shovels and make sure your shoes fit well when you hike or go for a long walk.