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How Do I Treat a Burn Blister?

The three degrees of burns.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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Second-degree burns affect the epidermis, the top layer of skin, as well as the dermis, which is the second layer. These burns may be painful and are often marked not only by redness and swelling, but also by blistering. In many cases, a small, second-degree burn blister can be treated at home. This typically involves caring for the burn and then applying a bandage or dressing that protects the blistered area yet allows air to circulate to the burned skin; you may also apply antibiotic cream to prevent infection.

The first step in treating a minor burn blister starts with proper care of the burned skin. This usually involves allowing cool water to run over the affected area for five to 15 minutes. Alternatively, you may soak the burned skin in cool water for the same amount of time. In some cases, it also helps to apply cool compresses to the affected area to help reduce pain. It is important, however, to use cool water and cool compresses rather than ice water or ice that is applied directly to the skin.

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Once you have finished with the cool water or compresses, the next step is covering the burn blister with a dressing or bandage. It's important to use a bandage or dressing that protects the area but allows the skin to breathe. Using this type of bandage can not only prevent infection or further injury, but also help to facilitate healing. You may use moleskin for this purpose or sterile gauze secured with surgical tape. Some people also apply antibacterial ointment before applying a bandage.

Since burn blisters may continue to cause pain after first aid treatment has been applied, you may consider taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help minimize the discomfort. Sometimes applying a lotion or cream to the area can help reduce discomfort as well. Typically, such topical treatments are applied after the skin has cooled completely and only if there are no open wounds in the area.

In some cases, it is best to seek professional help for treating a burn blister. Second-degree burns that cover more than a couple of inches may warrant a trip to a doctor. Likewise, burns that are on the feet, buttocks, or genitals may require treatment by a health care professional. If the blister remains painful or doesn't appear to improve within about two weeks, you may do well to seek medical attention.

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Discuss this Article

anon351350
Post 11

I had a bubble and I lanced it with a steroid needle. It got worse so I went to a doc and he gave an antibiotic, but then suddenly, two more bubbles came out and I just let it be Both burst overnight and I can see my pink skin. My dad said it would heal by itself and it is healing. I am only12 years old.

anon333324
Post 10

I have a burn on my outer thigh that has developed into a blister about half the length of a lighter across and about 1/7th in height. It's a fair size. I have not troubled it since I saw it. I was wondering if it's best to leave it or pop it? It can be most annoying when I brush my hand or bump into something.

oscar23
Post 9

You know what – I was actually told to try running room temperature water over burn blisters to help ease them. The cold feels better, probably, but the neutral temperature keeps the blisters smaller.

We have also busted the blisters so that they would feel relief, but did you know that this can leave major scarring? It sure can; I found out the hard way.

Probably the best thing to do is to run the water over it, then apply a burn ointment (aloe vera is a great natural ointment to sooth the pain) and then bandage it. However, make sure that you use the proper bandage so that it doesn’t stick.

If you are more likely to get the burn dirty during the day while you’re working keep it covered and remove the bandage at night. Use common sense, and do that how it will work best for you.

And naturally, go to the doctor if it looks like it’s getting infected or if we’re talking about a small child.

lighth0se33
Post 8

When I got second degree burns and blisters, my doctor told me to only cover the area at night. That way, it could breathe in the daytime, but it would be protected while I tossed and turned so the blisters would not break open and become infected.

He told me to wash my hands with soap and water first. Then, he said I should gently wash the burned area, dry it, and put antibiotic cream on it. After that, I had to place a bandage over it.

He told me that the skin would itch a lot while it healed. He said to keep my fingernails short so I could not scratch it. The area would also be sensitive to sunlight for a whole year, so I would have to keep it covered with sunscreen or clothing.

StarJo
Post 7

@cloudel - I’ve always heard that you should never pop burn blisters. Doing so could allow them to be exposed to dirt, and they could become infected. It’s best just to let them go away on their own.

I got burned by my curling iron on my neck. I had it on the highest setting, so the burn really hurt. Though it was tempting to put ice on the area, I didn’t because I know that it could cause further damage. Instead, I used very cold water to make a rag as cold as possible. Then, I held it on the area for 15 minutes.

After that, I noticed that the pain had lessened somewhat. However, after the coolness faded, it returned. I took acetaminophen, and that seemed to help ease the burning feeling.

cloudel
Post 6

My husband felt really bad about this, but he accidentally burned my arms with hot chicken grease. He had been rushing the skillet over to the countertop because the chicken was about to burn, and when he used the spatula to quickly lift the meat out onto a plate, the grease flew onto my skin.

I screamed out in pain. I put a cold rag on the area for about 10 minutes. Later on that day, blisters formed. My husband told me to pop them to make them heal faster. He got a needle and drained them. Then, I put an antibacterial cream on them and covered them with gauze.

kylee07drg
Post 5

I did not know you were supposed to cover the blisters with a bandage. I have never done that, but maybe it would have helped me heal faster.

I suffered some burn blisters when hot bacon grease splashed onto my legs. I compare the sensation to being stung by a jellyfish. The pain lasted a long time.

I did run cold water over it, and I put antibacterial cream on it. That was my first burn, and I just did those things out of impulse. It took me about three weeks to heal, and I just left the skin exposed.

indemnifyme
Post 4

@ceilingcat - I think I've heard about the butter trick before, but it sounded so ridiculous I didn't try it. I'm glad to know that it doesn't work!

The worst is when you burn yourself and don't really have access to cold water right away. When I was in college I once burned my hand really severely with some chili. I was in line at the dining hall and I didn't want to make a scene, so I just gritted my teeth and kept it moving.

That burn was pretty serious and took quite awhile to heal! And guess what? I haven't eaten chili since that day.

ceilingcat
Post 3

Someone told me that instead of running cool water on a burn, you should put butter on it. I have to say, that does not work! I tried it last time I burned myself in the kitchen and I got no relief.

From now on, I'm sticking to the tried and true remedy of running cold water over the burn.

wander
Post 2

@manykitties2- I really think your friend should go see the doctor. If she finds that her hand feels mostly numb that isn't a good sign. Third degree burns are mostly identified by the nerve death they cause. This basically means that the patient can't feel anything where they are burned because the nerves have been destroyed.

Even if she hates the clinic I would force her to go to the doctor. There may be something they can do for her. While it is unlikely the area will ever fully recover if it is a third degree burn they may be able to provide her with some physical therapy so her hand works better after the blisters and such are taken care of.

manykitties2
Post 1

How can you tell the difference between burn blisters from a second degree burn and a third degree burn?

My friend had an accident the other day and dumped boiling water on her hand. It didn't douse her hand completely but she has some really nasty looking blisters on her hand and fingers. She says that it feels sort of numb, but if she tries to move it too much it really hurts.

Right now we are applying an antibiotic cream and are keeping her hand wrapped in a light gauze so it can breath. Do you think it is best if she sees a doctor? I am a bit worried about her condition but she hates visiting the clinic.

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