Most people know what blisters are, and most people have had them before. But do you know what they are? Most people think that a blister is caused by water or sweat build-up in the skin, but that's not true. Blisters are caused by a separation of the upper and lower layers of skin. This happens when something rubs against the skin for a long period, which creates friction. When this happens, the body produces fluid to protect the area from further damage. This fluid accumulates and creates a blister.
What are blisters?
Blisters are small, raised areas of skin that contain clear fluid. They can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on the hands, feet, and lips. Blisters form when the top layer of skin rubs against the bottom layer. This can happen from friction, burns, or other types of irritation.
Blisters are usually harmless and go away on their own within a few days. However, if a blister is large or painful, it may need to be drained by a healthcare provider. Blisters can also become infected, so it’s important to keep them clean and covered.
What are the symptoms of blisters?
The main symptom of a blister is a small, raised area of skin that is filled with fluid. The fluid may be clear, yellow, or bloody. Blisters can occur on any part of the body but are most common on the hands, feet, and lips.
What causes blisters?
There are many possible causes of blisters, including:
Friction: This is the most common cause of blisters. When your skin rubs against something else—like a shoe, sock, or piece of clothing—it can create friction that damages the outer layer of skin. This damage causes fluid to leak out from the layers of skin beneath, and that fluid collects in the space between the layers of skin to form a blister.
Burns: A second-degree burn can cause blisters. These burns damage both the outer and inner layers of skin, causing fluid to leak out and collect in the space between the layers of skin.
Chemicals: Certain chemicals can cause chemical burns, which can lead to blisters. These burns damage both the outer and inner layers of skin, causing fluid to leak out and collect in the space between the layers of skin.
Diseases: There are a few diseases that can cause blisters, including chickenpox, shingles, and impetigo. Chickenpox is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus, and it can cause a blistering rash all over the body. Shingles are caused by the same virus, but it only causes a blistering rash on one side of the body. Impetigo is a bacterial infection that can also cause blisters. It's most common in children.
How are blisters treated?
Blisters are usually treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies. Common OTC treatments include:
Bandages: Place a bandage over the blister to protect it from further irritation.
Antibiotic ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment to the blister to help prevent infection.
Cold compress: Applying a cold compress can help reduce pain and swelling.
If the blister is particularly large or painful, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication, such as an oral steroid or an antibiotic. In some cases, blisters may need to be drained to provide relief. This should only be done by a medical professional.
How can you prevent blisters?
There are several ways that you can prevent blisters from developing. First, be sure to wear shoes that fit well and do not rub or chafe your feet. Second, wear socks that help to absorb sweat and protect your feet from friction. Third, choose activities that are less likely to cause blisters, such as walking or swimming instead of running. Finally, take care of your feet by keeping them clean and dry and by applying lotion to help keep the skin soft.
There are a few things you can do to prevent blisters:
- Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes.
- Avoid shoes that rub or chafe your feet.
- Wear socks that fit well and help reduce friction.
- Break in new shoes gradually.
- Keep your feet dry and clean.
- Apply a foot powder or antiperspirant to your feet to help keep them dry.
If you already have a blister, there are a few things you can do to help it heal:
- Clean the blister with soap and water.
- Do not pop the blister. Popping a blister can cause an infection.
- Cover the blister with a bandage.
- Change the bandage daily.
If the blister is painful, you can take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen.
If you have blisters, it is important to protect them from further injury. You can do this by wearing shoes that fit well and don't rub against your feet, using adhesive bandages or moleskin to protect the blister, and keeping the area clean and dry. If the blister breaks open, you will need to keep it clean and covered to prevent infection. In some cases, blisters may need to be drained by a healthcare provider.