How To Safely Treat Thumb Sucking Blisters, According To Experts

Being a parent is not always easy. Yes, you have all the love in the world to give, but when your child is sick or in pain, it can become difficult to deal with. Kids aren’t always model patients — they hate medicine, will pull off bandages, and will run around when you need them to rest. One of the more painful things young kids go through is developing blisters from sucking their thumbs. If this is the case, you should know how to treat thumb sucking blisters — hopefully with some cooperation from your little ones.

In an interview with Romper, Chicago-based pharmacist Bineesh Moyeed says that the first thing to remember is that you should never pop a skin blister, no matter where it is on the body. She explains that blisters are caused by too much friction in one area, and in the case of thumb sucking, they are caused by the continuous friction from your baby's lips and tongue. “The raised skin on a blister, with the air or liquid underneath it, protect the new forming layers of skin,” says Moyeed, “and popping it could break that protective barrier, exposing the broken skin to infection.”

She also warns that it is unsafe to put a band-aid or any kind of ointment or cream on the area, because it could become unsafe for your baby. “For persistent thumb suckers, a band-aid can easily become a choking hazard for younger children,” warns Moyeed, “and any topical cream may cause harmful side effects if ingested.”

She suggests trying to get your child to avoid sucking the injured thumb, and possibly offering a pacifier or another distraction in its place. “It’s best to try to keep your child entertained with something else in order to allow the skin on their finger to heal.” Moyeed notes that some parents tape socks over their baby's hand, which helps them avoid sucking their thumb.

So how can you avoid these blisters from forming in the first place? Romper reached out to Pennsylvania pediatrician Dr. Jarrett Patton, who says that blisters caused by thumb sucking can be painful, so the best way to keep them from forming is to encourage thumb sucking to end. “The best way to end the bad habit is to give positive reinforcement for not sucking the thumb,” says Patton, “which can be done by creating a star chart, in which you place a star on a chart for each period of time he is observed not thumb sucking.” He suggests that when five stars have been collected, you can offer your child a small prize.

While some parents may consider trying to make thumb sucking unappealing as a technique, Patton suggests that it may not be the most efficient approach. “Negative reinforcement, like using hot sauce or a bad tasting substance on the thumb, tends not to be effective.” He adds that while there isn’t really a right age to stop your child from sucking their thumb, it should be stopped as soon as possible. “Prolonged thumb sucking tends to make the teeth permanently protrude and may need orthodontic correction later in life,” warns Patton.

So while it may be the blisters you have to deal with right now, in the long run it’s probably best to try to use distractions and positive reinforcement techniques to wean your child off their thumb. It will help let their blisters heal, allowing the area to dry out, and can be the perfect excuse to finally get them to stop sucking their thumb. The good news is that kids heal super fast, so it shouldn’t be long before their skin is back to normal. Parenting is really the true test of a person’s patience, so you just have to take all the craziness that comes at you one day at a time — thumb sucking blisters included.

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