Blisters

Blisters are small pockets of fluid within the upper layers of the skin.  Blisters can be caused by forceful rubbing, burns, allergic reactions, freezing, chemical exposure or viral illnesses of the skin. Most blisters are filled with a clear plasma fluid known as serum. Blisters that are filled with blood are commonly called blood blisters.  Any type of blister can become easily infected if not treated properly.

Seek immediate medical attention for blisters resulting from a burn or from chemical exposure.  Persons should also contact a health care provider if they develop blisters inside of the mouth, a blister that is oozing pus, or one that is extremely painful and red.

First Aid for a minor blister begins with properly draining the blister fluid, unless the blister looks infected or the person has a fever; multiple, grouped blisters; diabetes; or poor circulation

  • Wash your hands and the blister using lukewarm water and mild soap.
  • Disinfect the area around the blister with rubbing alcohol.
  • Disinfect a clean, sharp needle by dipping or rinsing it in rubbing alcohol.
  • Use the disinfected needle to gently puncture the outside edge of the blister and let the fluid drain.  Try to leave the overlying skin in position.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or Bacitracin on the blister, and cover with a bandage.
  • After a few days, use disinfected tweezers or scissors to cut away the remaining dead skin, apply more ointment and cover the area with a bandage.

Protect the blister while it is healing, and prevent new blisters from forming on feet by wearing acrylic rather than cotton socks and choosing work or athletic shoes that fit properly.  Apply powder to necessary areas before performing activities that involve constant friction.  To prevent new blisters from forming on hands, wear proper work gloves to when moving heavy objects, gardening, working on a vehicle, or performing any activity that puts extreme pressure on hands.

Related Article: Double up on Socks to Prevent Blisters?

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Scorpion Stings

Scorpion stings require prompt care, especially if the victim is an infant or small child.  Call 911 or get to an emergency room right away if the person displays severe sting reaction symptoms such as:

Mild reactions to scorpion stings are normal, and typical symptoms include

  • pain, swelling, and sensitivity at the sting site,
  • numbness in the sting area,
  • nausea, vomiting, and excessive salivation.

First aid for a scorpion sting begins by:

  • Immediately rinsing the sting site thoroughly with cold water.
  • Apply a local antihistamine, corticosteroid, analgesic, or ice to control pain.
  • If one is available, take an oral antihistamine to slow the allergic reaction, and
  • Get to a medical professional right away

The Food and Drug administration has recently approved a Bark Scorpion sting antidote that can be administered by health care professionals.  The antidote, called Anascorp, is already widely used by many health care providers in the Southwestern United States, where Bark Scorpions are commonly found.  A person stung by a Bark Scorpion should consider asking their health care provider about the antidote.

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Bee Sting

When bees or wasps sting a person, they inject venom through their stinger into the skin. About 3% of people stung by bees and wasps can have an allergic reaction to the sting, and just under 0.8% can experience a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

The normal reaction to a bee or wasp sting is reddened and painful skin that itches and swells, but the pain usually goes away in a few hours. A large local reaction to a sting consists of swelling, redness, and pain that might persist for as much as a week. Large local reactions often affect areas surrounding the site of the sting, but do not appear all over the body.

In a systemic allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting, the entire body is affected. The victim often develops hives which consist of redness and swelling at sites on the body that are distant from the site of the sting. Symptoms can include: vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, wheezing or difficulty breathing and nausea. If you are stung by a bee:

  1. Call emergency medical services immediately if you have a history of severe reactions to insect stings or if you experience any systemic allergic reaction symptoms.
  1. Determine if the stinger is still present by looking for a small black dot at the sting site, and remove it immediately if it is visible in the wound.  When removing the stinger, use an accessible object that is hard and flat, such as a credit card or tweezers.
  1. Clean the area with soap and water, and apply hydrocortisone cream to the site.  Alternative treatments, such as a paste made of baking soda and water, can be applied if hydrocortisone cream is not readily available.  Ice or cold packs can be used to reduce the body’s inflammatory response, and taking an antihistamine such as Benadryl, has also been reported to be beneficial.

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Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction that may cause narrowing of the airway resulting in a limited ability to breathe, and possible shock. Anaphylactic shock is considered to be a medical emergency that requires emergency medical treatment. In severe cases, untreated anaphylaxis can lead to death within half an hour. Take the person to the nearest emergency room, or call 9-1-1 for an ambulance.

Signs of Anaphylactic shock include:

  • A rapid pulse and constriction of the airway that causes wheezing, difficulty breathing, and can also cause the heart to stop beating.
  • Skin reactions such as hives, itching, flushed, blotchy or pale skin often appear along with swelling of the face, eyes, lips or throat,
  • Nausea, fainting, or unconsciousness, are also common symptoms of Anaphylactic shock.

While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, perform first aid by:

  • Helping the person lie still on their back. If they are vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, turn the person on their side. Doing so will keep their airway clean and prevent them from choking.
  • Loosen any tight or restrictive clothing, and loosely cover the person with a blanket for warmth.
  • If there are no signs of movement or breathing, start CPR until paramedics arrive.
  • Individuals known to suffer from severe allergic reactions often carry auto-injector devices called Epi-Pens. These devices are prescribed by a doctor, and they contain a dose of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, that can quickly reduce the body’s reaction to a known allergen.
  • Ask the person if they are carrying an Epi-Pen, and if so, find it quickly. Ask if the person needs help injecting the medication, and if so, press the auto-injector against their thigh to deliver the medication.

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Allergies

Allergies and Allergic reactions can be moderate or severe.  Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Call 911 if a person has had severe allergic reactions in the past, or

  • Is developing hives or swelling on the face and neck,
  • has a rapid pulse along with a profound feeling of anxiety,
  • Experiences tightness in the chest area along with trouble breathing.

See a doctor or get to an emergency room immediately if you notice other dangerous signs of an allergic reaction such as:

  • a fast-spreading red or blistered area on the skin, or skin that peels off without blistering
  • Raw areas of flesh that appear scalded
  • Spreading of the condition to areas around the eyes, mouth, or genitals

First Aid for mild allergic reactions starts with treatment for itchiness and rash:

  • Adults can take an over-the-counter antihistamine to relieve the discomfort of itching, provide they are not allergic to any of the ingredients.  Consult a doctor before giving an antihistamine to a child.
  • Take cool showers using only soaps and detergents that are made for sensitive skin. Cool compresses or Calamine lotion can be applied for additional relief, and wearing lightweight clothing that is loose-fitting will help prevent additional irritation to the rash area.

Certain medications have been known to cause allergic reactions.  If you believe an allergic reaction has been triggered by a new medication, stop taking the medication and inform your doctor right away.  Ask your doctor about alternative medicines and which medications to avoid in the future.

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