Blisters are probably one of the most common ailments in the world. Everyone had at least one blister at some point in their life, and most people do not worry much about it. If properly taken care of, blisters heal on their own, they just need some time. However, if they are neglected and especially if they are not cleaned properly, blisters can get infected and become a slightly more serious medical concern.
A blister is a small pocket of fluid that forms on the upper layer of the skin. The fluid is usually clear and it consists of serum or plasma, but it can also contain puss and blood. Serum is the part of the blood that contains no blood cells or blood clotting agents, and when it functions as blister fluid, it cushions the tissue underneath it, protecting it and allowing it to heal.
Blisters usually form as a result of pressure or friction. They most commonly appear on feet, toes, hands and fingers. They are usually caused by friction or pressure. However, blisters can also occur due to burning or freezing.
If blisters bursts or if it is punctured or ripped open, it exposes the underlying skin and tissue to bacteria and other harmful microbes. This increases the risk of infection. When a blister gets infected, it fills with puss, which is the body’s response to infection.
Symptoms of infected blisters
Infected blisters are more painful than normal ones. The skin surrounding them is swollen and slightly elevated, usually red, warm to touch and inflamed and if they are filled with blood, they become dark red or almost black. Instead of clear blister fluid, they are filled with puss, which can be yellow or greenish.
Prevention and treatment of infected blisters
The clear blister fluid protects the wound and helps it to heal on its own. The skin that forms the blister serves as a protective shield against dirt and bacteria from the outside, so in order to prevent infection of a blister it is recommended to try the best to keep it from bursting. Some people pierce the blister with a needle to drain the fluid, which is not only unnecessary, because the fluid will eventually get absorbed by the body, but it is also dangerous, because it exposes the wound to infections.
Blisters should be cleaned and protected from further friction or damage, preferably using a sterile dressing. Antibacterial ointments can be used as a form of protection against infections.
If the infection does occur, it is best to see a doctor, who will most likely prescribe antibiotics. For minor infections antibacterial ointments will do the trick, but in case of severe ones, sometimes it is necessary to take oral antibiotics too.