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Classification & external resources
A blister caused by 2nd degree burns
ICD-10 T14.0
ICD-9 910-914, 940.0-949.5
DiseasesDB 1777
MedlinePlus 003239
MeSH D001768

A blister or bulla is a defense mechanism of the human body. When the outer (epidermis) layer of the skin separates from the fibre layer (dermis), a pool of lymph and other bodily fluids collect between these layers while the skin re-grows from underneath.

If a blister is associated with sub-dermal bleeding it will partially fill with blood, forming a blood blister.



Blisters can be caused by chemical or physical injury. An example of chemical injury would be an allergic reaction. Physical injury can be caused by heat, frostbite, or friction.

Blisters typically develop when there is friction and irritation to the surface layer of the skin that cause it to separate from the second layer. Fluid fills in the space between these two layers. Blisters most often appear on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. The hands and feet often rub against shoes, socks, or sports and music equipment and create friction under moist, warm conditions perfect for blisters.

Certain autoimmune diseases feature extensive blistering as one of their symptoms. These include pemphigus and pemphigoid. Blistering also occurs as part of foodborne illness with Vibrio vulnificus (seafood).

The class of chemical weapons known as vesicants acts by causing blisters (often within the respiratory tract). Mustard gas and lewisite are examples of such agents.



Minimizing friction is the primary method of preventing blisters. Appropriate footwear, socks, and gloves for work involving frequent hand use will help reduce blisters.

Ensuring that shoes are the right size and shape, and that socks are made from a synthetic blend is an effective way of reducing the occurrence of blisters. Other effective ways to reduce blisters is to apply petroleum jelly or talcum powder before exercising to reduce friction.


Unless infection occurs, blisters usually heal quickly without much additional treatment. If a blister is punctured, it forms an open wound, which should be disinfected and bandaged. Loose bandaging should be used since a bandage that is too tight can result in rupture or rubbing against the blister, causing discomfort. If the blister is broken, the excess skin should not be removed[1] (unless it is dirty or torn). Removing the excess skin often makes the wound heal any infection quickly - if immediately disinfected. Signs of infection include pus draining from the blister, very red or warm skin around the blister, and red streaks leading away from the blister.

Small unbroken blisters that do not cause discomfort can be left alone to heal, because the best protection against infection is a blister's own skin.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Blisters Treatment - Health encyclopaedia - NHS Direct. Retrieved on 2007-12-15.
  2. ^ Blisters - Treatment and Prevention. Retrieved on 2007-12-15.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Blister". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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