Is Wicking Wicked?

I was recently introduced to "wicking" blisters--putting material under the skin to drain the fluid. I am a certified Wilderness First Responder, but I couldn't recall any mention of "wicking" blisters in my training, and I didn't find any in the Wilderness Medical Institute's training book. I think it is a great way to get a very bad infection. What do you think?
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I was recently introduced to "wicking" blisters--putting material under the skin to drain the fluid. I am a certified Wilderness First Responder, but I couldn't recall any mention of "wicking" blisters in my training, and I didn't find any in the Wilderness Medical Institute's training book. I think it is a great way to get a very bad infection. What do you think?

Question:

I was recently introduced to "wicking" blisters--putting material under the skin to drain the fluid. I am a certified Wilderness First Responder, but I couldn't recall any mention of "wicking" blisters in my training, and I didn't find any in the Wilderness Medical Institute's training book. I think it is a great way to get a very bad infection. What do you think?

Submitted by - Suzanne - Ocala, FL

Answer:

I have no data showing the use of "wicks" in blisters carries a significant rate of infection, but I too find the method suspect, especially if you're in less-than-sanitary backcountry conditions. I have never taught that technique or used it myself.

I say wash the blistered site, slice a pretty big hole in the blister with a sterilized point, massage out the fluid, add a layer of antimicrobial ointment, primarily for lubrication, and place some sort of

patch over the drained bubble. If you keep it clean, the blister should heal within a week.