Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it safe to pop a blister or should I just let it heal?"
Got a bad sunburn on my shoulders and have multiple blisters. Is it okay to pop them or will the blisters heal faster if I just let them be?
Typically it is recommended that you not pop blisters after they develop. A blister is basically caused when a disconnection occurs between the outer layer of the skin and the layer under it. This break quickly fills with fluid that the body naturally creates causing a "bulla" or blister. This is good for a couple of reasons. The first is that it prevents this inner layer of skin from drying out (this layer is still alive, unlike the outer epidermis, and thus does not react well to dessication). Also, by having this layer of skin still covered by the epidermis, the outer layer is still protecting the body from infection even though it is a bit compromised by its detachment from the underlying layers. The bottom line is that your skin is there for a reason, that being principally to prevent bacteria and viruses and toxins in general from entering your body. Doing anything to disrupt that even by removing a layer that has become partly detached is inviting infection. There are other times when dead skin should be removed which is called debridement, and this is done when skin and tissue are actually dead and rotting. In this case the tissue is actually serving as a nidus for infection and should be removed, but in the case of a blister, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the skin aside from the fact that it has become detached from the layer under it. Allow it to heal on its own. That said, if the burn is extensive, you should see your doctor as you are at risk for infection from the damage caused by the burn itself not to mention he/she can prescribe a number of ointments which may aid in your pain relief and healing.
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