Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that look like bubbles on the skin. You may develop a Reference blister on your foot Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window when you wear new shoes that rub against your skin or on your hand when you work in the garden without wearing gloves. Home treatment is often all that is needed for this type of blister.
Other types of injuries to the skin that may cause a blister include:
- Burns from exposure to heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation from the sun, or friction.
- Reference Cold injuries from being exposed to cold or freezing temperatures.
- Some spider bites, such as a bite from a Reference brown recluse spider Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include reddened skin followed by a blister that forms at the bite site, pain and itching, and an open sore with a breakdown of tissue (necrosis) that develops within a few hours to 3 to 4 days following the bite. This sore may take months to heal.
- Pinching the skin forcefully, like when a finger gets caught in a drawer. A blood blister may form if tiny blood vessels are damaged.
Infection can cause either a single blister or clusters of blisters.
- Reference Chickenpox Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window (varicella) is a common contagious illness that is caused by a type of herpes virus. Chickenpox blisters begin as red bumps that turn into blisters and then scab over. It is most contagious from 2 to 3 days before a rash develops until all the blisters have crusted over.
- Reference Shingles Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, often seen in older adults, is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles blisters look like chickenpox, but they usually develop in a band on one side of the body.
- Reference Cold sores Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, sometimes called fever blisters, are clusters of small blisters on the lip and outer edge of the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sore-type blisters that develop in the genital area may be caused by a Reference genital herpes Opens New Window infection.
- Reference Impetigo Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window is a bacterial skin infection. Its blisters, which often occur on the face, burst and become crusty (honey-colored crusts).
- Infected hair follicles (Reference folliculitis Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window) cause red, tender areas that turn into blisters at or near the base of strands of hair.
- A Reference scabies Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window infection, which occurs when mites burrow into the skin, may cause tiny, itchy blisters that often occur in a thin line or curved track.
- Reference Bedbugs Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window can cause tiny, itchy blisters anywhere on the body.
Inflammation may cause skin blisters.
- Reference Contact dermatitis Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window occurs when skin touches something in the environment that causes an Reference allergic reaction Opens New Window. Contact with certain plants, such as Reference poison ivy, oak, and sumac Opens New Window, may occur Reference indirectly.
- Blisters may develop from a disease that causes your body to attack your own skin (Reference autoimmune disease).
Occasionally a prescription or nonprescription Reference medicine or ointment can cause blisters. The blisters may be small or large and usually occur with reddened, itchy skin. If the blisters are not severe and you do not have other symptoms, stopping the use of the medicine or ointment may be all that is needed. Blisters may also occur as a symptom of a toxic reaction to a medicine. This reaction is called Reference Stevens-Johnson syndrome Opens New Window. Blisters that occur with Reference other signs of illness, such as a fever or chills, may mean a more serious problem.
Reference Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 21, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine