The most frequent cause of water blisters is repeated friction. Water blisters most commonly occur on the heel or the foot when someone is breaking in new shoes. When the blisters burst, they can be painful, and those with diabetes need to be particularly careful to bandage blisters to prevent infections. Friction is, however, not the only cause of these blisters. Several other conditions can cause them to form.
Burns are probably the second most frequent cause of water blisters. Second and third degree burns may quickly blister. Since burns of this type can cause damage to the skin, they usually require treatment with topical antibiotics to prevent infection. Large burns necessitate a trip to the doctor to help eliminate pain and to reduce risk of infection.
Some viruses can cause blisters. Chicken pox and shingles, for example, begin with the formation of small blisters that burst after a day or so, and then begin to crust over and scab. Scabs should be watched for any signs of pus as these may indicate infection.
Allergies to substances resulting in contact dermatitis may also cause blisters. Some people have significant allergies to detergents or cleaning chemicals that can at first show up as blisters. Blisters and/or rash may be present and should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out a viral cause. Poison oak and ivy can also cause blistering before a rash develops.
Prickly heat, resulting from exposure to high heat in humid areas may also create water blisters. Blisters usually tend to resolve overnight, leaving behind a raised and irritated rash. As well, direct exposure to the sun, and extremely bad sunburns may blister the skin like contact burns. If the skin forms blisters with minimal sun exposure, this may indicate heightened skin sensitivity to the sun.
Some sexually transmitted diseases like genital warts and herpes may also form blisters prior to forming itching rashes. Blisters on the genitals should always be evaluated, since the most likely cause is herpes, which can be quite contagious. Those with herpes need to discuss reduction of risk with any potential sexual partners.
How Do You Pop a Water Blister?
Despite all the causes for these stubborn water blisters, the draining tends to be the same. It’s best to leave blisters alone and not pop them. The leftover skin can offer protection to the area and allow it to heal on its own.
If the blister is just too painful, or you accidentally pop it, there are safe ways to pop the blister and keep the area safe from infection. It’s crucial to keep the area clean with rubbing alcohol or an anti-bacterial wipe, and washing your hands or gloves will do when you go to open the blister.
The best approach is to use a sterilized needle to press the bubbled skin and let the liquid slowly drain from the area. Have a cotton ball, gauze, or other material to catch the excess liquid that drains from the area.
Popping the blister is easy, but the potential mess it can create is a concern if not taken care of properly. Stay clean, and don’t pop it unless you have to.
How Do You Heal a Water Blister?
Whether you’ve left your blister alone to heal itself or you have popped it, it’s crucial to leave the skin intact, even if it's tempting you to peel it off. The skin, dead or alive, protects the wound beneath it from infection.
When a blister becomes infected, that’s when you should seek medical attention. It’s best to avoid that altogether though.
The healing process is simple as long as you tend to the blister. Ointments, keeping it clean, and gauze or bandaids add a layer of protection that will go a long way in the healing process.
What Are the Ways to Prevent a Water Blister?
Water blisters can form from a couple of different things, but heat and friction are the top contenders. Yet there are simple and easy ways to prevent all water blisters, and most of it comes down to just being more careful.
Heat Water Blisters
For example, heat blisters come as a surprise when you accidentally pick up a hot pan bare-handed, or you spent an extra hour in the sun when you weren't supposed to and you have a few blisters on your skin as a result.
These blisters can be prevented with some extra attention and care yourself. Applying sunscreen, putting on potholders before lifting a hot tray, anything they can simply keep your hands and skin blisters free.
Friction Water Blisters
Friction water blisters are a different story because they are not as easily avoidable. In scenarios where you’re aware they could pose a threat, like breaking into new sports cleats or going on several mile-long hikes, you can take precautions.
With new shoes that could rub against your heel, side of your feet, and toes, it’s best to slowly break them in as opposed to hopping into a couple of hours of activity. The same goes for long hikes, if you know it will be a long time of walking, wear shoes that you’ve already broken in and won’t harm your feet.
Accidents happen, and blisters come and go. Despite their small size, they can be a real pain. It’s better to stay ahead of them and keep your body blister-free because the last thing you want is an infected one.
How Can You Tell if Your Water Blister is Infected?
Blisters usually aren’t a problem and will resolve on their own. With that being said, if a blister becomes infected, you may need to seek medical attention. You will be able to tell if you’re water blister is infected by sight, feeling, and smell.
It will become increasingly evident as you take in the symptoms, composed of heat in the blister area, possible pus draining from the area, or red irritated skin. A smell typically accompanies the pain and swelling of an infected blister.
If your blister is infected, you should seek medical attention for your next steps. The last thing you want is for it to become worse.