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Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that look like bubbles on the skin. You may develop a blister on your foot when you wear new shoes that rub against your skin or on your hand when you work in the garden without wearing gloves. Home treatment is often all that is needed for this type of blister.
Other types of injuries to the skin that may cause a blister include:
Infection can cause either a single blister or clusters of blisters.
Inflammation may cause skin blisters.
Occasionally a prescription or nonprescription medicine or ointment can cause blisters. The blisters may be small or large and usually occur with reddened, itchy skin. If the blisters are not severe and you do not have other symptoms, stopping the use of the medicine or ointment may be all that is 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.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines, including some that you put directly on the skin, may cause blisters. A few examples are:
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Pain in adults and older children
You may need a tetanus shot depending on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Symptoms of serious illness in a baby may include the following:
Symptoms of serious illness may include:
Symptoms of infection may include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Most blisters heal on their own. Home treatment may help decrease pain, prevent infection, and help heal large or broken blisters.
Watch for a skin infection while your blister is healing. Signs of infection include:
Home remedies may relieve itching from blisters. 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.
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
Some of the most common types of blisters can be prevented.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
Current as of: June 4, 2014
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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