Blisters: Complete Guide

blisters feature image

Have you ever seen a bubble like structure on your skin? These tiny irritating bubbles are the blisters.

It usually appears on the top layer.

These little pockets have fillings of pus, blood and even clear water. They are called blisters and are quite common.

For some, they are a nuisance and usually direct towards a far more serious problem.

This article will discuss what painful blisters are, their causes, and the best ways to prevent and treat them.

So, let’s get into it:

What are Blisters?

irritating bubbles are called blisters

These are basically in the shape of a circle and it is a bubble-like structure and collects fluids.

Depending on the cause, they can be itchy and also hurtful.

Usually you would see just one on the skin but sometimes they can also appear in clusters.

One thing you should know is a blister can direct towards a serious problem. It can even be a symptom to a serious illness.

So having a proper diagnosis with a skin specialist will be a smart move.

But did you know that having a blister also signifies a sort of a defensive mechanism.

Read On:

The Protective Purpose

The blister is called a bubble of protection. It forms on the uppermost layer ‘epidermis’ covering the blister so it can protect and provide cushion to the lower layers. So to give skin underneath the time to heal properly.

It actually an amazing way in which the body protects itself from inflicting more damage. You can call it a bandage even. As it helps in preventing the bacteria from entering the wound.

We will now touch upon the various causes of blisters.


Causes of Blisters

There are different activities and ailments which trigger this condition. They are:


One of the most common causes are excessive friction. This is when you are repeatedly doing a condition causing friction, such as playing a music object.

This constant rubbing causes blisters as well as other medical conditions. It is due to a skin reaction as well.

They appear on your hands and feet. On areas which are most prone to abrasion, for instance.

It is also common for them to appear in warm regions, like the inside of your shoe. Areas which are attached to underlying structures like the palms of a hands have higher chances of blister formation.

The misconception is that you should just pop it to get rid of the problem. However the situation is far more complex.

If they are not well-taken care of, you will develop serious medication problems like ulceration.

Burns and Frostbite

frostbite leads to blisters too

If you can determine how the blister is forming for a burn, you can categorize the burn too. For example second-degree burns blisters very quickly whereas first-degree burns will blister a few days after the accident.

Similarly in the case of a frostbite, again you will notice blisters forming. As we have talked about it already, blisters are the body’s tactic to protect the lower layers of the skin from any damage and infection.

It’s the epidermis that must take it all ( like a hero).

Contact Dermatitis

This is when blisters happen because of your reaction to chemicals. This isn’t common and happens to only certain individuals who come in contact with:

  • different cosmetics
  • detergents with harsh ingredients
  • solvents
  • nickel sulfate
  • insect bites
  • bug stings
  • chemical warfare agents

Blood Blister

There is a time of blister which happens when the small blood vessels on top of your skin gets cut. When it does, the blood breaks into gaps between skins and this causes for a blood blister to happen. This is again a bubble but it has blood in it.

Now that you know what causes blister, we will look into another important concept: chafing.


What is Chafing?

This is one of the common skin problems which happens when there is excessive friction with moisture. It is when there is a prolonged skin rubbing and it gives a burning sensation and a red rash.

In some cases it can also escalate towards swelling and crusting.

It happens on body parts where there is excessive rubbing with clothes.

Blisters can happen because of this. But here’s the good news: you can prevent chafing.

Ways to Prevent Chafing:


The following tips from leading dermatologists help to prevent chafing. These include:

Pamper your feet-easily the most neglected part of the body, aim to prevent blisters by wearing nylon socks or moisture-wicking ones. Also wear shoes that fit you perfectly. This means they shouldn’t be too lose or too tight that there isn’t space for air circulation.

Put on loose-fitting clothes- it just makes sense that when you are doing a physical activity, wear clothes which aren’t too tight and don’t soak up sweat and moisture. This will lead to friction and chafing, thus blisters.

Bandage well– bandages are used often but for areas which get moisture a lot, make use of soft bandages which are applied properly.

Apply petroleum jelly-make use of Vaseline or jelly which helps to reduce the friction between skin rubs or against clothing.


Types of Blisters:

there are different types of blisters


We will now look into the different types of blisters which commonly form

Friction Blisters :

It’s one of the most common ones. They are when you wear hard boots which are rubbing against your skin when its sweaty, causing for these blisters to form quickly.

Contact Dermatitis:

This kind is when you touch or come in close contact with something you are allergic to, example coming in close proximity to a poison ivy. However it doesn’t mean the object is poisonous. It can be anything like soaps, perfumes, different fabrics, jewellery etc.

Bug Bites:

Did you know there are several insect bites which can cause blisters, some extremely painful? From itchy blisters from flea and bedbugs to scabies which are tiny mites that leave curved lines of blisters. The brown recluse spider leaves extremely harsh bites which can turn into harmful blisters.

Viruses Blisters

There are certain viruses like chickenpox and shingles which can cause blisters. One common virus is the herpes. It is found in chickenpox and usually starts with red bumps which quickly turn into blisters.

So now that we know of the causes and types of blisters, let’s take a quick overview of :


How They Form?

It begins with their is shear stress between the skin’s surface and the rest of your body.

Almost 6 hours after a blister starts to appear, cells at the bottom of it begin to take on amino acids  which are building blocks of protein and DNA.

Almost taking a day, the cell division increases and new layers form.

In 2 days, you will see a new layer of skin and a new upper later is visible.

With the development of new cells, the fluid is reabsorbed and swelling subsides. Blisters become more painful when the tissue shears and deeper layers are getting an expose.

These layers are close to nerve endings which produces more pain.



Sometimes it  isn’t really clear whether you have a blister or if its some other skin condition. In such cases it is best to visit your doctor.

Your doctor will look into your family history including if you have any existing allergies. It will also be determined if you are having exposure to chemicals and allergens.

Sometimes a skin biopsy will help to determine if you have a blistering disease or not. This is when a small skin tissue will be taken from your blistered region and will then be examined in the laboratory.


How long does it last?

Another common question which is asked is how do we know how long a blister will last. Usually a blister which was the result of irritation can actually last for just a few days and goes away on its own.

However those blisters which happen because of infections and skin diseases, they can very well go for months even. These can become chronic and usually require an on-going treatment.


Treatment of Blisters

different treatments for blister condition

When it comes to treating blisters, experts say you shouldn’t try to pop them.

It is actually the bubble which is protecting bacteria from entering in.

If you pop it and the barrier is  removed, it can cause more complications.

What you should try is cover it with a band-aid or gauze. In case you see the blister is bursting, you should avoid the need to peel the skin off.

If the fluid is leaking, let it drain naturally and then clean the wound with a mild soap.

After which you can cover the area by using a sterile, dry dressing. Wear comfortable well-fitting shoes. You can also make use of talcum powder.

Same goes for blood blister, you should allow them to heal on its own, much like cold sores.

However as we already know some blisters are painful. In such cases there is a simple way you can drain it, hygienically:


How to Drain a Blister

  • Use a mild soap and warm water to wash the affected area.
  • Swab it with iodine.
  • Bring a sterile needle by rubbing it with alcohol.
  • Then puncture the blister.
  • Allow the fluid to drain on its own.
  • Do not touch/remove the overlying skin.
  • Make use of an ointment like petroleum jelly.
  • Cover the wound with a non-stick gauze bandage.
  • In case of a rash, don’t use the ointment.
  • It is important that you keep a check on the area to avoid the onset of infection.
  • Apply ointment when needed


We Want to Hear From You:

We hope you will take away all the useful information we could provide about blisters. It is a common condition but it needs your due attention. Sometimes leaving it on its own is the right decision but sometimes you need medical intervention. Look out for the signs , determine the type and get a proper treatment in order.

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