Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that look like bubbles on the skin. You may get a blister on your foot when you wear new shoes that rub against your skin. Or you may get one on your hand when you work in the garden without wearing gloves. Home treatment is often all that's needed for this type of blister.
Other types of injuries to the skin can cause a blister. They include:
Infection can cause either a single blister or clusters of blisters.
Inflammation may cause skin blisters.
Sometimes a prescription or nonprescription medicine or ointment, such as antibiotics or pain medicine, can cause blisters. The blisters may be small or large. They most often occur with red, itchy skin. If the blisters aren't severe and you don't have other symptoms, stopping the use of the medicine or ointment may be all that's needed. Blisters may also occur as a symptom of a toxic reaction to a medicine. This reaction is called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Blisters that occur with other signs of illness, such as a fever or chills, may mean a more serious problem.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of infection may include:
Symptoms of serious illness may include:
Symptoms of serious illness in a baby may include the following:
Usually found in dirt and soil, tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through a wound. Wounds may include a bite, a cut, a puncture, a burn, a scrape, insect bites, or any injury that may cause broken skin.
You may need a tetanus shot depending on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Pain in adults and older children
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines, including some that you put directly on the skin, may cause blisters. A few examples are:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Most blisters heal on their own. Home treatment may help decrease pain, prevent infection, and help heal large or broken blisters.
A small, unbroken blister about the size of a pea, even a blood blister, will usually heal on its own. Use a loose bandage to protect it. Avoid the activity that caused the blister.
If a small blister is on a weight-bearing area like the bottom of the foot, protect it with a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad. Leave the area over the blister open.
It's best not to drain a blister at home. But when blisters are painful, some people do drain them. If you do decide to drain your blister, be sure to follow these steps:
Don't drain a blister of any size if:
If a blister has torn open, or after you have drained a blister:
Watch for a skin infection while your blister heals. Signs of infection include:
One way to help decrease itching is to keep the itchy area cool and wet. Apply a cloth that has been soaked in ice water. Or get in a cool tub or shower.
You can also try a paste of baking soda mixed with water or a nonprescription lotion such as calamine lotion.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
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