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  • Friction Blister: Raised pocket of clear fluid, covered by skin. Friction blisters usually occur on the palms, fingers, heels or toes.
  • Blood Blister: Raised pocket of bloody fluid, covered by skin. Dark red or purple in color. A blood blister can occur when the skin gets pinched (in a hinge or a closing door).
  • Blisters when the cause is unknown are also covered.

Friction Blisters.

  • Friction causes most blisters on the hands and feet.
  • A friction blister is a raised pocket of clear fluid covered by skin.
  • Cause. A friction blister is the result of forces on the skin. Shear forces separate the top layer of the skin from the lower layer. This forms a cushion (blister) of fluid over the spot of friction or pressure.
  • Common Sites. Fingers, palm, back of heel, top of toes, side of foot.
  • Hand Friction Blisters. Hand blisters are often due to friction from using a tool too much. Examples are a shovel, pick, or rake. They can also be caused by sports equipment. Examples are a tennis racquet or boat oars. Gymnastics equipment (such as high bars) may also cause hand blisters.
  • Foot Friction Blisters. Foot blisters are likely due to friction from an activity. Examples are hiking or running. Usually, a child has new shoes or poorly-fitting shoes. Children starting a new sport may develop blisters. Also, a risk factor to forming blisters is recently increasing the activity time.
  • Prevention. There are two general approaches to prevent friction blisters. These are toughening the skin and lowering the friction force.
  • Complications. Pain or infection.
  • Treatment. Painless or mildly painful small blisters can be treated at home. Use moleskin or tape that has a hole cut in the center. Larger or very painful blisters sometimes need to be drained. This can be done by making a small hole in the blister. Use a clean needle or pin. Let all the blister fluid drain out. Then the blister can be covered with antibiotic ointment and a dressing.

Other Causes of Blisters

  • Burns - Chemical (Second-degree)
  • Burns - Thermal (Second-degree)
  • Frostbite (Second-degree)
  • Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Viral rash from Coxsackie virus)
  • Impetigo. Staph bacteria can cause impetigo with blisters.
  • Insect bites. In young children, insect bites (such as fleas) can cause small blisters.
  • Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac
  • Sunburn (Second-degree)


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