Knowing how to give first aid for blisters might make the difference between a successful family camping trip and a miserable experience for everyone.
A blister seems like such a tiny thing, but it can really hurt! Left unattended, a blister can become infected and turn into a huge problem.
Foot blisters are the most common blisters in my camping experience.
A blister is actually a burn!
Like any other burn, it is caused by heat. The heat that causes a blister burn is caused by the friction of skin rubbing against a hard surface, like a boot or a shovel handle.
Blisters on feet are usually caused by poorly-fitting footwear which rubs against a foot.
The friction causes heat, and the heat creates tissue damage, leaky capillaries and swelling - just as in a burn caused by hot water or fire.
The best thing to do, of course, is to prevent blisters altogether.
Preventing a blister means that you'll never have to use first aid for blisters.
What if you end up with a blister in spite of my good advice and your good intentions? You can minimize your discomfort and infection by dealing with it promptly.
The first step in first aid for blisters is to keep the blister from breaking.
Cover small blisters with a moleskin or gel dressing. Buy these at a well-stocked drugstore and make sure you put some in your first aid kit.
If the blister is large, you want to take the pressure off it and prevent it from breaking.
Cut a donut-shaped pad from moleskin and place it over the blister.
It depends on the size of the blister, your activity, and where the blister is situated.
If it isn't broken, there is no danger that a blister will become infected. Your skin is protecting you, even though it is stretched over a bag of fluid. The "skin roof" of the blister is a sterile enclosure that keeps germs out.
If possible, keep that skin intact.
If you know that the blister is going to break, you should break the blister yourself.
Perhaps you have to continue hiking and the blister will continue to be rubbed.
Breaking it in a controlled way is better than letting it break on its own.
Follow the directions below for avoiding infection.
If worse comes to worst and a blister does break on its own (or if you decide to break it yourself), you need to deal with it promptly to avoid infection.
Use these same first aid for blisters principles on any part of the body.
Now you know how to do first aid for blisters - but more importantly, you know how to prevent blisters from forming in the first place!