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A blister or bulla is a defense mechanism of the human body. It consists of a pool of lymph and other bodily fluids beneath the upper layers of the skin. It may be formed in response to burns or friction, and helps to repair damage to the skin. If a blister is punctured, it forms an open wound and must be bandaged.
Last Updated -19th December 2005
- If a blister is associated with sub-dermal bleeding, it may partially fill with blood, forming an unpleasant blood blister.
- Blistering is a distinguishing characteristic of second degree burns.
- Certain autoimmune diseases feature extensive blistering. 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 in the respiratory tract). Mustard gas and lewisite are examples of such agents.
- Blisters are usually the result of repeated rubbing against the skin.. Some illness, such as shingles, cause blister-like rashes. Burns can also blister the skin.
- Avoid shoes that are too tight.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands when doing heavy chores
- If a blister is small and closed, leave it alone.
- Avoid the activity or shoes that caused the blister to form.
- Protect a small blister by applying a loose bandage.
- If a small blister is in a weight-bearing area, protect it with a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad leaving the area over the blister open.
- If a blister is larger than 1 inch across, it is usally best to drain it by sterilizing a needle with rubbing alcohol and gently puncturing the blister at the edge. To drain, press the fluid in the blister toward the hole you have made.
- Once a blister is opened by either puncture or tear, wash the area with soap and water but do not remove the flap of skin covering the blister unless it is very dirty or if pus is forming under the skin flap.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment and sterile bandage to an opened blister after cleaning it.
- Do not use alcohol or iodine on a blister as they will delay healing.
- If you bandage a blister, change the bandage once per day to reduce the chance of infection.
- Remove the bandage from a blister at night to let the area dry.
When To Call a Doctor
- If blisters form often and you do not know what causes them.
- If signs of infection develop including fever.
- If you have diabetes or a peripheral vascular disease.
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