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First-Aid Manual: Treat a Blister

Learn how to fix this common hiking ailment correctly and you'll be back on the trail in no time.
  • First, clean the blister with an antiseptic wipe.
  • Sterilize the point of a safety pin, needle, or knife with flame or an alcohol swab. Gently pierce the blister, then massage the fluid out. Leave the skin that covers the blister intact.
  • Cut a donut-shaped piece of moleskin to fit over the blister. Alternately, you can cover the blister with a friction-reducing dressing, such as Blist-o-Ban.
  • Prevent infection by filling the hole in the moleskin with antibiotic ointment.
  • Secure the moleskin with athletic or duct tape.
First, clean the blister with an antiseptic wipe.
Image 1 of 5

First, clean the blister with an antiseptic wipe.

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1 | 2

I used closed cell foam from a sleeping pad once on 2 heel blisters as I didn't have moleskin. The blisters were an inch wide and I walked on them for a further 10 days until the duct tape dressings dropped off. They had absorbed the fluid and were completely healed.
— Honora

I got blisters under my big toenails on both feet. Did not know that they were blisters and had alot of pain for a few days. When I realized they were blisters, I heated a boiled nail and put a hole in the center of the toe nail. Fluid squirted out with great force. the pressure was gone and so was the pain. I eventually lost both toenails. I blame ill fitting boots and lots of downhill hiking.
— atorbust55

I'm with you on all but the last step. The adhesive on duct tape can be problematic in open wounds like blisters. Stick with athletic tape, bandage adhesive tape, etc. if at all possible.
— Kerry Scott

Just say no to DuckTape. It is not a plus in medical situations.
— ED

that is one nasty foot. next time get a foot model
— GG

spent two weeks in the grand canyon packpacking my hiking partner broke open a blister and did not treat it after with ointment i spend three days in a Arizona camp ground waiting for him to get out of the hospital from blood poisoning from a infected blister always treat a wound no matter how small
— tarbelly

Why do some people say drain the fluid why others say don't drain the fluid?
— PG

Wow. Good info but that foot is jacked up!
— Slade

PG, the reason some suggest not draining the blister is that by puncturing it you have just created an open wound. If the needle or blade isn't properly sterilized and the puncture site not kept clean, it is very easy to contract am infection. I always recommend to leave the blister in tact as long as it causes no mobility problems and you are able to effectively treat the blister.
— Chris

For the most part, you shouldn't pop a blister. However, if you're in the middle of a backpacking trip and you have a large fluid filled blister, it becomes very hard to walk. You have no choice but to pop it. The biggest problem with popping is that it creates a wound susceptible to infection. If you must pop you should keep as much of the skin intact and use anti-biotic ointment to limit the danger. Make sure you cover the popped blister with a dressing to keep the dirt out. Clean the blister with water and change the ointment and dressing on a daily basis.
— Luke


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