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Patient education: Blisters (The Basics)

Patient education: Blisters (The Basics)

What are blisters? — Blisters are fluid-filled bumps on the skin.

What causes blisters? — Many things can cause blisters, including:

Something rubbing or pressing against the skin – This might happen from wearing a tight-fitting shoe or gripping a tool.

Bad burns, often from something very hot (like a boiling water or a stove) or a sunburn

Allergic reactions to something that touches the skin, such as poison ivy or poison oak

Problems with the body's infection-fighting system (called the "immune system")

What are the symptoms of blisters? — The symptoms include one or more fluid-filled bumps on the skin (picture 1). The fluid is usually clear.

Should I see a doctor or nurse? — See your doctor or nurse right away if you are not sure what caused your blisters or if you have:

Blisters in your mouth, near your eyes, or in or near your anus or genital area

Blisters all over your body

Painful blisters

Blisters with pus inside

Will I need tests? — Maybe. If you need to see a doctor or nurse for your blisters, they might do tests to find the cause of your blisters. This might include taking a sample of your skin.

How should I take care of a blister? — To care for a blister caused by something rubbing or pressing the skin or a burn, you should:

Wash the area with soap and water.

Do not pop or poke the blister with a sharp object unless your doctor or nurse tells you to. Opening the blister makes it more likely to get infected and slows healing.

If the blister pops, keep the area clean and cover with a bandage to protect it.

Do not scratch blisters. Scratching blisters makes them more likely to get infected. If you have itchy blisters, your doctor might recommend medicine to help with itching.

Most blisters heal in about a week.

Can blisters be prevented? — You can reduce your chances of getting blisters if you:

Wear shoes that fit properly

Use gloves or protective padding when working with tools

Wear a hat, protective clothing, and sunscreen when out in the sun

More on this topic

Patient education: Skin burns (The Basics)
Patient education: Sunburn (The Basics)
Patient education: Poison ivy (The Basics)
Patient education: Contact dermatitis (The Basics)
Patient education: Heat rash (prickly heat) (The Basics)

Patient education: Skin burns (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Poison ivy (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Contact dermatitis (including latex dermatitis) (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Nov 01, 2022.
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