10 Possible Blister Causes
The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced blister. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Friction blister on the hand
Friction blisters are very common and occur when fluid accumulates beneath the outer layer of the skin. They’re caused by friction from carrying heavy objects or repetitive use.
Top Symptoms: hand pain, blister on the hand, blister caused by friction, constant skin changes, rash with bumps or blisters
Symptoms that always occur with friction blister on the hand: blister caused by friction, blister on the hand
Shingles (herpes zoster)
Shingles is a painful rash that results when the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes the chickenpox, becomes reactivated. It results in a painful rash of small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) over a single strip of skin on one side of the body.
The onset of the rash is often preceded by changes in skin sensation and flu-like symptoms. Blisters form over three to five days before beginning to dry up and scab and then heal over the following two to four weeks.
The diagnosis is largely by clinical examination, although blood tests can aid in diagnosis in unclear situations. People who are older or have compromised immune systems are most frequently affected and at a greater risk of complications.
Treatment involves antiviral medications and supportive treatments. Fortunately, shingles can be effectively prevented with a vaccine, which is recommended for all adults over age 50.
Top Symptoms: symptoms of infection, dizziness, fatigue, rash, diarrhea
Symptoms that always occur with shingles (herpes zoster): grouped rash, rash
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Skin infection (cellulitis)
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that can affect the skin of any part of the body. Cellulitis most commonly appears on the legs in adults and on the head in children. It can be the result of any condition that compromises the protective barrier of the skin.
The most common symptoms are a growing region of redness that is warm to touch and painful when pressed. Symptoms indicating that the disease has advanced include fever, chills, headaches, vomiting, and feeling ill.
Antibiotics are required to treat the skin infection, and, importantly, they can prevent the spread of the infection to the lymphatic system or the bloodstream.
Top Symptoms: moderate fever, painful rash, red rash, feeling confused and not making sense while talking, abnormally high heartrate
Symptoms that always occur with skin infection (cellulitis): red rash, painful rash
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Blistering disease (pemphigus)
Pemphigus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system attacks healthy cells in the skin and mouth, causing blisters and sores. This is a rare disease, and doctors are not completely sure of the cause.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: nasal ulcer, skin peeling, hoarse voice, painful rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Friction blister on the foot
Friction blisters are very common among both men and women of all ages. They most commonly affect the feet due to lifting heavy loads, repetitive overuse, or ill-fitting shoes. The layers of skin become separated from mechanical force, and the body fills the gap with fluid.
Top Symptoms: foot pain, foot blister, blister likely from friction, constant skin changes, foot skin changes
Symptoms that always occur with friction blister on the foot: foot blister, blister likely from friction
Irritant contact dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis means a skin reaction that is caused by directly touching an irritating substance, and not by an infectious agent such as a bacteria or virus.
Common causes are soap, bleach, cleaning agents, chemicals, and even water. Almost any substance can cause it with prolonged exposure. Contact dermatitis is not contagious.
Anyone who works with an irritating substance can contract the condition. Mechanics, beauticians, housekeepers, restaurant workers, and health care providers are all susceptible.
Symptoms include skin that feels swollen, stiff, and dry, and becomes cracked and blistered with painful open sores.
A medical provider can give the best advice on how to heal the skin and avoid further irritation. Self-treatment can make the problem worse if the wrong creams or ointments are used.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, to find out what substances the patient comes into contact with, and through physical examination of the damaged skin.
Treatment involves avoiding the irritating substance if possible. Otherwise, the person can use petroleum jelly on the hands underneath cotton and then rubber gloves.
Top Symptoms: rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash
Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis: rash with well-defined border
Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
Sunburn is an acute condition related to excess exposure to ultraviolet rays. It usually resolves over the course of a few days and acute symptoms can be managed; however, it can have morbid long-term effects if the sunburn is particularly severe. Symptoms include reddening of the skin (erythema), fluid-filled bumps on the skin or blisters, and possibly nausea, fever, vomiting, and headache. Treatment options include taking NSAIDs for pain, treating burns in a professional setting (if necessary) as well as measures to protect the skin from further sun exposure. The application of sunscreen, as well as wearing protective clothing, are important steps to avoid sunburn.
Top Symptoms: painful rash, red rash, itchy rash, warm and red rash, swollen rash
Symptoms that always occur with sunburn: painful rash, red rash
Symptoms that never occur with sunburn: fever
Partial thickness burn
A burn is called partial-thickness when there is damage to some of the lower layers of skin. This can cause blistering and pain, but is not generally dangerous if treated properly.
Top Symptoms: burn, blistering burn, blanching burn, burn that is painful to touch
Symptoms that always occur with partial thickness burn: burn, blistering burn, burn that is painful to touch, blanching burn
Symptoms that never occur with partial thickness burn: open wound from burn
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Allergic reaction to poison ivy/oak/sumac
Plants of the Toxicodendron genus are found throughout the continental United States, and exposure to these plants is a leading cause of contact dermititis, a medical term used to describe irritation and itching of the skin.
Top Symptoms: rash, itchy rash, red rash, skin changes on arm, stinging or burning rash
Symptoms that always occur with allergic reaction to poison ivy/oak/sumac: itchy rash, rash
Symptoms that never occur with allergic reaction to poison ivy/oak/sumac: fever
Many types of chemicals can cause damage to the skin, including strong acids and bases such as drain cleaner.
Symptoms that never occur with chemical burn: open wound from burn
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
FAQs About Blister
Here are some frequently asked questions about blister.
Do blisters go away on their own?
The most common type of blister is an abrasion blister, usually brought about by some sort of strenuous rubbing of skin against an object. They can be caused by running in shoes that don't fit, doing a repetitive task like yard work for the first time without gloves, or even working out without proper hand protection. Blisters that come about in this way usually disappear and become less tender naturally with time. Blisters may also arise because of a rash or exposure. Burns from the sun or direct exposure to fire or steam often blister, rashes from exposure to toxins like poison ivy may blister, and chemical burns may also blister. If you have a rash from an unknown source that is blistering you should seek medical attention.
What do you do if you accidentally pop a blister?
There is not much to do aside from keeping the site of the popped blister clean and protected. You may notice a red and tender area under the skin of the blister. For your own comfort and to prevent infection, it can help to place a dry bandage over the popped blister and to change it 12 times per day, keeping it dry before changing it. But, in most cases, it will resolve on its own.
Can diabetes cause blisters on my body?
Yes, diabetes can cause blisters. This is called bullous disease of diabetes. The blisters caused by diabetes are under the skin and do not have a clear cause. They are often red and swollen and most commonly appear on the feet or legs. They commonly and spontaneously resolve over the course of a few weeks.
Can blisters spread to other parts of my body?
Yes, depending on the cause, blisters can spread and often do spread. Blisters caused by a sunburn, for example, will develop first in the area most intensely exposed to the sun. If you have received a sufficiently high dose of UV radiation, you may later develop blisters in other areas as well. Autoimmune disorders of the blood vessels or skin, infectious diseases, and exposure to certain plants and chemicals can all cause blisters to spread from one area of the body to another. Health professionals are trained to look at the distribution of a rash with blisters to determine its cause. If you have a spreading rash with blisters you should see a health professional for diagnosis.
Can blisters get infected?
Yes, blisters can get infected. The chance of infection is higher for larger blisters, but is present for any size of blister. Keys to ensuring that the blister does not get infected, is keeping any substance (e.g. dirt, oil, water, antibacterial gel) from getting caught under the dead skin overlying the blister. This can be done either by carefully removing the skin or by keeping the blister dry and covered during times when it might be exposed to some infectious material.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Blister
To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:
- Any fever today or during the last week?
- What color is the skin change?
- Is your rash raised or rough when you run your hand over the area of skin?
- Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions
Take a quiz to find out why you're having blister
Blister Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced blister have also experienced:
- 3% Armpit Lump
- 3% Itchy Rash
- 3% Scalp Bump
People who have experienced blister were most often matched with:
- 44% Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
- 44% Skin Infection (Cellulitis)
- 11% Friction Blister On The Hand
People who have experienced blister had symptoms persist for:
- 29% Over a month
- 27% Less than a week
- 25% Less than a day
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).