Blisters – Causes, symptoms and diagnosis

When you wear a new pair of shoes that doesn’t agree with your foot, a bump filled with a liquid form on the skin. This is called a  blister.

Blisters – Causes, symptoms and diagnosis

Blisters may occur due to repeated friction of a certain part of the body against something else, like a blister may form on the palms while gardening if you are not wearing any gloves. Blisters are the body’s way of saying, take heed – pay attention.

Causes of blisters

  • One of the main causes of blisters are repeated friction of the skin of a particular area against a rough surface. These types of blisters are commonly seen on the feet and hands.
  • Blisters can result during infections commonly in chicken pox, herpes simplex type 1 which causes cold sores which may later form blisters on the lip or around the mouth. The blisters of chicken pox are extremely contagious. Shingles – a viral infection seen in adults also causes blisters.
  • Blisters can result after burns of any kind – due to heat, chemicals and radiation. Blisters can also occur due to extreme cold for example in frostbite, chillbains, trench foot etc.
  • A blister can form when an area of the skin is pinched tightly, for example when skin gets caught in a drawer, a blood blister may form. In this case the blister has blood inside it.
  • A bacterial infection called impetigo and even scabies caused by the scabies mite can result in blisters.
  • A blister may form as an allergic reaction to medication in rare cases. Contact dermatitis is seen when the skin comes into contact with something that produces a skin inflammation. Plants like poison ivy and oak while certain varieties of spiders may be the cause.
  • Blisters may occur in autoimmune conditions in which the body attacks it’s own cells thinking them to be foreign.
  • Infection of the hair follicle (folliculitis) if left untreated may cause a blister.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases like genital herpes can cause blisters.

Symptoms and signs of blisters

  • A blister is a small to large round lump seen on the skin’s surface. It is usually covered with a colourless fluid but may sometimes be filled with blood.
  • If your blister has reddish streaks extending from it or is filled with pus or is accompanied by fever, it is a sign of infection and must be brought to the attention of a doctor.
  • If the skin around the blister becomes redder, more swollen or warmer it is a sign of infection, this needs prompt medical attention.

Diagnosis of blisters

The diagnosis is clear-cut. The history of injury or activity like cycling, gardening or walking in a pair of new shoes aids the diagnosis. Alternatively, there may be a history of recent infection, burns or exposure to cold temperature.

In the next part, we shall take about the treatment and prevention of blisters.

Photograph via sxc.hu

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