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- Friction or constant pressure, such as from wearing a tight-fitting shoe or gripping a tool
- Second-degree burns, including sunburn or frostbite
- Viral infections, such as chickenpox , shingles , or herpes
- Bacterial infections, such as impetigo
- Fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot
- Contact dermatitis, such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac
- Allergic reactions
- Reactions to certain medications
- Certain cancers
- Blistering diseases, such as porphyria
- Autoimmune disorders, such as pemphigus
- Insect bites
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes
- Repetitive work with hand tools
- Getting a sunburn or frostbite
- Severe skin swelling, especially of the legs
- Fluid-filled bump on the skin, which is often round
- Fluid is usually clear, but may be bloody, cloudy, or containing pus
Protect the Area
- Be gentle with the injured area. To prevent further injury, use a bandage made for blisters. Also, put a cushion around the blister to protect it. The blister should begin to shrink in about seven days.
- Do not pop or lance the blister. Opening the blister increases the chance of infection and delays healing.
- Do not scratch any blisters. If it is infectious, scratching may spread the infection. It also puts others at risk for getting the infection. Try over-the-counter medication that is applied to the skin to relieve any itching or discomfort. If you still have problems with the blisters, call your doctor.
Wash the Area
See Your Doctor If:
- The blister is unusually large—bigger than a nickel
- The blister is in a sensitive area, such as on the face or the groin
- The blister is associated with a burn
- There are signs of infection, such as increasing redness around the blister, red streaks, severe swelling, pus drainage, fever, or an increase in pain
- Wear shoes that fit properly.
- Always wear socks with your shoes.
- Wear sports socks when exercising or participating in sports.
- Use gloves or protective padding when working with tools.
- Wear a hat, protective clothing, and sunscreen when out in the sun.
- Wear sandals in public showers to protect your feet from athlete's foot.
- Wear long shirts and pants when working outside to protect yourself from poison ivy.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases http://www.niams.nih.gov
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
Health Canada http://hc-sc.gc.ca
Blisters. Better Health Channel website. Available at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Blisters. Updated January 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
Blisters, calluses, and corns. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill%5Finjure/aches/blisters.html. Updated October 2011. Accessed September 3, 2014.
Ramsey ML. Avoiding and treating blisters. Phys Sportsmed. 1997;25(12).
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/03/2014