What Are Blisters?
Most blisters happen from irritation or other damage to the skin from something outside the body, such as a shoe. Some diseases can cause blisters, fluid-filled lesions between the two top, superficial, layers of the skin.
A single blister is usually from friction or a burn, typically on the hands or feet.
Blisters all over the body may be a sign of a serious, life-threatening disease; call your doctor.
What Causes Blisters?
Blisters are caused by several things:
Friction: Blisters can happen when something rubs against skin, such as a tool handle against the hand or a new pair of shoes against the ankle. Unlike corns and calluses, which develop from prolonged rubbing, friction blisters come from brief, intense rubbing on a small area.
Cold: Extreme cold can cause blisters. For example, when a wart is frozen off, a blister will grow.
Drug reactions: Many people develop blisters as a reaction to taking certain drugs. Before prescribing any new drugs, your doctor should ask about any drug reactions you have had in the past. If you develop a blister while on medication, call your doctor.
Autoimmune diseases: Three diseases of the immune system commonly cause blisters:
- Pemphigus vulgaris, a potentially fatal skin disease, causes blisters in the mouth or skin; these painful blisters become raw and crusted after bursting.
- Bullous pemphigoid causes less severe blisters that heal faster and are not life-threatening; this condition is seen mostly in elderly people.
- Dermatitis herpetiformis causes small, itchy blisters; it is a chronic condition that usually starts in early adulthood. It is associated with gluten sensitivity.
Genes: There are rare genetic diseases that cause the skin to be fragile and to blister.