How to Get Rid of Blisters

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

A blister is a skin condition or sore in which fluid builds up between layers of the skin. Blisters commonly form when something rubs against the skin and causes damage. A blister is part of the immune and inflammatory systems' response of sending fluid with compounds to help with healing.  

While they can be painful and annoying, usually, blisters can be easily treated at home. This article covers the different types of blisters and how to treat them.

A man inspects his toes while hiking on The Loast Coast, California.

Cavan Images / Getty Images

Causes and Types of Blisters

There are several common causes and types of blisters.

Normal Blisters

Blisters can develop several ways, and two of the most common causes are:

  • Friction blisters: A friction blister develops when something rubs against the skin. This could be caused by skin rubbing on skin, tight clothing, or poorly fitting shoes or from repeated actions like digging with a shovel. The cells around the blister release fluid (serum) to help protect the skin.
  • Blood blisters: Usually, blood blisters form when something pinches the skin or some other injury damages a small blood vessel. The broken blood vessels leak blood into the blister along with serum. 

Blisters That Might Need Special Treatment

Some blisters may result from a disease or from a serious injury, such as:

  • Burn blisters: A burn blister, also called a heat blister, is caused by thermal burns or sunburns. When the skin blisters from a burn, it’s considered at least a second-degree burn.  
  • Eczema: This skin condition is caused by an overactive immune response. Symptoms can be triggered by genetics, stress, or the environment. It causes dry, itchy, red, or blistering rashes. 
  • Frostbite: If you spend too much time with your skin exposed to cold temperatures, you could get frostbite. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, discolored skin, and blistering.  
  • Allergic reaction: Allergens are substances that trigger an overactive immune response, which could cause a rash, redness, blisters, itching, and swelling. 
  • Bacterial infection: Some types of bacterial skin infections, like the highly infectious impetigo, may cause blistering, rashes, redness, and fever. 
  • Viral infection: Viruses can cause skin blisters, including varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles, and herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores.
  • Exposure to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac: These plants produce an oily substance that causes an allergic reaction in some people resulting in blistering, swelling, redness, and itching. 

How to Treat Blisters

Generally, most blisters will heal on their own after a few days. It’s important to try to keep the blister protected to help prevent it from becoming infected. Here are some other ways to treat blisters at home.

For Blisters That Have Not Popped

If the blister hasn’t popped, ways to treat it include:

  • Leave it alone: It can be tempting to try to pop blisters, but it’s best to leave them alone. Popping could increase your risk of infection if not done safely.
  • Use a blister bandage: A blister bandage can help seal the area around the blister to protect the skin from further damage and keep the area clean. 
  • Avoid putting pressure on the blister: For friction blisters, avoid wearing the shoes or clothing or doing the activity that led caused the blister.
  • Keep the area clean: Gently wash the area with warm water and mild soap.

For Blisters That Have Popped

Blisters that have popped can be treated by:

  • Keep the area clean: Avoid getting the area dirty and wash the area gently with mild soap. 
  • Use an antibiotic ointment: If your blister pops, it is more likely to become infected. Using an antibiotic ointment can help keep the area clean and kill any harmful bacteria in the exposed skin.
  • Don’t cut off the outer layer of the blister: Don’t remove the loose, outer layer of the blister until the deeper layers of skin have healed. Keeping the outer layer will help keep your skin protected. 
  • Use a bandage: Placing a bandage over the popped blister can help protect it from dirt or further injury.
  • Avoid friction on the area: Try to prevent any added friction or injury from happening to the healing skin.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Blisters

Natural remedies to help treat blisters include:

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a common ingredient in treatments for sunburns. The leaves of the aloe vera plant contain a gel-like substance. Research has found qualities in aloe vera that help reduce inflammation, boost collagen production, and stimulate cell growth to promote wound healing.

Green Tea

Green tea contains multiple naturally occurring chemicals that may have health effects. One animal research study found that green tea extract helped increase the healing process for surgical wounds.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is an essential oil with anti-inflammatory and possible antiviral properties. Some research suggests eucalyptus oil may help treat and prevent cold sores caused by oral herpes, the herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1).

Tea Tree Oil

Like eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. Using tea tree oil may help with managing recurrent cold sore outbreaks.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is commonly recommended by dermatologists for many uses, including healing skin. You can apply petroleum jelly over a broken blister to cover the area with a protective layer and lock in moisture. Use a bandage for added coverage and to prevent the petroleum jelly from being wiped away.

Calendula

Calendula comes from a plant in the marigold family, called Calendula officinalis. It has antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation, prevent cell damage, and boost healing.

Coconut Oil

Coconut contains several types of fatty acids, including lauric acid, which may help reduce inflammation and hydrate skin. These properties may help tissues repair and increase healing.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is another essential oil with potential health benefits. Studies show a lemon balm may help treat cold sores.

Draining a Blister Safely

If possible, try to keep the blister intact. There are several types of blisters that should never be drained. In some cases, friction or blood blisters can be drained. If the blister isn’t too painful, try to keep the blister from popping to protect the deeper layers of skin. 

Blisters You Should Not Drain

Never pop a cold sore, or fever blister, as that can spread the herpes virus that caused it. They will usually soon break open on their own, ooze fluid, and scab over.

Avoid popping blisters from a viral infection, bacterial infection, burns, frostbite, or allergic reactions. If these are painful and turgid, consult a healthcare professional to discuss the safest way to treat them.

How to Safely Drain a Blister

If a friction blister or blood blister is extremely painful, it can be drained. When draining a blister, try to the outer layer of skin mostly intact to help prevent infection and protect your skin. Here’s how to drain a blister:

  • Wash your hands and the skin around the blister with mild soap and warm water.
  • Gently wipe the blister with iodine or alcohol to disinfect the skin.
  • Sterilize a sharp needle by cleaning it with rubbing alcohol.
  • Puncture the blister with the needle by poking a couple of small holes around the outer edge of the blister.
  • Allow the fluid to drain and keep the outer layer of skin attached.
  • Apply an ointment like petroleum jelly or an antibiotic cream.
  • Cover the area with a nonstick gauze bandage.
  • Monitor the area for infection. When the deeper layers of skin have healed, cut away the dead skin using sterilized tweezers and scissors. Apply more ointment and cover as needed.

When to See a Healthcare Professional

If you notice any signs of infection or you’re not sure of the cause of the blister, contact your healthcare provider to help determine if there are any underlying conditions causing the blister and to prescribe medication to treat any infections. 

Signs of infection include:

  • Pus, a yellow or green discharge from the blister
  • Painful or hot area around the blister
  • Swelling
  • Red streaks around the blister
  • Fever

How to Prevent Blisters

Not all blisters can be prevented, depending on their cause. Still, some steps may help prevent them, including:

  • Wear shoes and socks that fit well.
  • Wear gloves and other protective gear when doing manual labor.
  • Break in new shoes by wearing them only for short periods.
  • Wear clothes that fit correctly to protect the skin.
  • Use anti-chafing creams or ointments.
  • Use sunscreen daily and reapply throughout the day.
  • Use potholders and be careful when handling hot items.
  • Wear clothing intended for cold weather to prevent frostbite.
  • Stay alert and avoid plants that look like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
  • Practice good hygiene to prevent infection.

Summary

Blisters are a skin condition in which fluid builds up between layers in the skin. They can be caused by friction, pinching, infection, burns, cold, and allergic reactions. Try to avoid popping the blisters, and protect the area. If a blister has popped, consider using an ointment and covering the area to prevent infection.

A few home remedies for blisters include aloe vera, green tea, tea tree oil, petroleum jelly, and coconut oil. You can prevent some types of blisters by wearing proper clothing to protect the skin, wearing sunscreen, and wearing shoes that are not too big or too small.

A Word From Verywell

Blisters can be extremely uncomfortable. Most of the time, they will resolve on their own within a couple of days. If your blister becomes infected or you have any questions, contact your healthcare professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take for a blister to go away?

    Most blisters heal within a few days. However, some may take around seven to 10 days to fully heal.

  • Does ice help blisters?

    Applying an ice pack to a blister may help reduce some of the inflammation and discomfort caused by the injury.

  • What is inside a blister?

    The clear fluid inside a blister is called serum. It consists of water, protein, carbohydrates, and cells from the immune system. The serum is released by the cells around the blister to help protect and heal the skin.

Was this page helpful?
10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kowalski EH, Kneibner D, Kridin K, Amber KT. Serum and blister fluid levels of cytokines and chemokines in pemphigus and bullous pemphigoid. Autoimmun Rev. 2019;18(5):526-534. doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2019.03.009.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Blisters.

  3. Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The effect of aloe vera clinical trials on prevention and healing of skin wound: a systematic review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019;44(1):1-9.

  4. Asadi SY, Parsaei P, Karimi M, et al. Effect of green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract on healing process of surgical wounds in rat. Int J Surg. 2013;11(4):332-337. doi:10.1016/j.ijsu.2013.02.014

  5. Schnitzler P, Reichling J. [Efficacy of plant products against herpetic infections]. HNO. 2011;59(12):1176-1184. doi:10.1007/s00106-010-2253-0.

  6. Kodiyan J, Amber KT. A review of the use of topical calendula in the prevention and treatment of radiotherapy-induced skin reactions. Antioxidants (Basel). 2015;4(2):293-303. doi:10.3390/antiox4020293

  7. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

  8. Garber A, Barnard L, Pickrell C. Review of whole plant extracts with activity against herpes simplex viruses in vitro and in vivoJ Evid Based Integr Med. 2021;26:2515690X20978394. doi:10.1177/2515690X20978394

  9. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to prevent and treat blisters.

  10. American Academy of Dermatology. Cold sores: Signs and symptoms.