Tips for Treating Burn Blisters
Burn blisters can be nasty little things that often leave us wondering the same old questions: Should I pop the blister? What creams work well on blisters? What about a band-aid? These are all good questions, and in this article we are going to cover the correct ways to treat burn blisters as well as knowing when a burn is severe enough to warrant a trip to the hospital.
First of all, a minor burn is one that is less than three inches in diameter and can usually be treated yourself. If the burn area is larger than three inches in diameter or if it is in an area such as the face, genitals or buttocks, or feet, it is considered to be a major burn. Major burns should be treated by a medical professional right away.
Burn blisters can be caused by many things, from a second-degree sun burn, hot oil, boiling water, and even chemicals. Whenever a burn of this type occurs, the first step of action is to place the burn under cool running water. The importance of running water as opposed to a sink or bowl of water is that running water will remain at a constantly cool temperature, whereas water in a bowl or sink will warm to your body temperature, but can be used as a last resort if running water is not available. Never use ice or extremely cold water over a burn as it could indeed cause more damage to the tissue, even sending the burn further down into the muscle. Try to keep the burn under the running water for a minimum of ten minutes. The cool water should reduce the pain and swelling, as well as help to quickly and safely draw the heat out of the skin.
When the area has dried, you may wish to apply a soothing cream to ease the pain and lessen damage to the skin. Most first aid kits contain burn creams, but if you don’t have any you can also use some aloe vera gel, but only if the skin is not broken. If the water did not ease all of the pain and you don’t have any cream or aloe vera to apply to the area, you may want to take a pain killer such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.
Burn blisters and the surrounding burn area should be covered with a sterile gauze bandage. Cotton balls and similar types of material can leave lint-like bits in the wound, which could lead to infection. You want to ensure that the gauze is wrapped loosely around the area and try not to put any pressure on the blister and burned area. If the blister is particularly large or nasty, you may want to use a moleskin bandage. It is an elevated type of bandage that will not cause any further damage to the blister. Whichever type of bandage you choose, it will help to keep air from reaching the burn and also serves as a protective barrier for the blistered area.
After the pain subsides, you may find yourself wondering whether you should pop your blister with a sterile needle and drain the fluid. Ideally, you should NOT pop a blister. The fluid that builds up in the blister is called “serum” and is actually released by nearby tissues that have been damaged. If you leave the blister alone, the body will reabsorb the fluid and the skin of the blister will harden. Eventually, this hardened skin will shed and new, healthy skin will be revealed. It does take a few weeks for a second degree burn to heal (most burns that result in a blister are considered to be second degree).
Any time you are dealing with burn blisters, it is important that you regularly check the area for signs of infection development. Simply peel the gauze away gently every two or three hours to determine whether the skin looks septic. If you are ever in doubt about treating a burn yourself, the best way to handle it may simply be to pay a visit to your doctor or the emergency room if it seems serious enough.