Your Guide to Treating Blisters

Your Guide to Treating Blisters

Fridar Gichuki |Apr 7, 2021

How to Treat a Blister

A blister is a circular bump of fluid that forms as a single blister or in clusters under the skin, caused by friction, freezing, burning, infection, or chemical burns.

The fluids collect under the damaged skin to protect the tissue underneath from any further damage, allowing it time to heal. Depending on the cause, a blister may be filled with:

  • Clear watery blisters: a clear, yellowish, watery substance called serum that’s part of the blood without the red and white blood cells or platelets.
  • Blood blisters: these result from an injury or friction. For instance, you can get a blood blister in your mouth, hands, feet, joints, heel, or on the balls of the feet. It occurs when the skin gets pinched but doesn't break.
  • Pus blisters: pus is a symptom of an infected blister.

Common Causes of Blisters, How to Avoid Them, and Treatment Options

There are five common causes of blisters:

Chemical Exposure

Chemicals such as blistering warfare agents known as vesicants cause blisters, burns, and irritation of the eyes and lungs.

You may also suffer exposure to a blister-causing irritant in the workplace. Some of the blister-causing chemicals in the workplace, depending on your sector of work, may include:

  • Cutting oils, paints, and hand cleansers for the automobile industry
  • Detergents and solvents for cleaners
  • Permanent wave solutions and bleaching agents used by hairdressers
  • Multiple forms of solvents used in the automobile industry, dry cleaners, floor layers, artists, painters, plastic workers, shoemakers, rubber workers, and printers

The best way to avoid getting blisters from chemical exposure is to avoid or limit the exposure. As an occupational precaution, always use protective wear such as gloves, goggles, and overalls whenever working with chemicals.

You can treat chemical blisters by flushing the exposed area, usually skin or eyes, with water for more than 10 minutes. Flushing with water is only a first aid response make sure to seek immediate medical attention.


Products with fragrance or preservatives often cause allergic dermatitis to individuals. For safety, always seek products labeled fragrance-free or without perfume. Most of the products with water must have a preservative. Commonly used preservatives that cause blisters are:

  • Parabens
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternion–15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Formaldehyde
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids

If you have sensitive skin, always scan the ingredients on products you purchase for any of the above preservatives. Beauty products with alpha-hydroxy acids of over 10% are also known to cause blistering.
The best way to avoid cosmetic products with blistering ingredients is first, consider opting for products with fewer ingredients. You can take the time to research the few ingredients and understand their benefits and likely side effects.

Alternatively, you should consider making it a habit to always perform a patch test before using any product. Apply a small amount of product on the inside of your elbow and wait for a minimum of 48 hours. If there is any blistering, you should not use the product on any part of your body. When using fragrances, apply them on your clothes and not directly to your skin.

However, the most effective way to avoid skin blistering from products is by engaging a qualified professional like a dermatologist.

If a cosmetic product causes you to blister, the most effective treatment is to stop using the product. Cosmetic blisters are superficial and are unlikely to cause scarring. However, if the skin damage caused is significant, then consult your doctor for further diagnosis and treatment options.

Insect Bites or Stings

Mosquitoes, midges, gnats, mites, fleas, ticks, fire ants, and brown recluse spiders are some bug bites known to cause blistering. Most insect-related bites will disappear after a few days.

To treat a mosquito bite blister, wash it gently with soap and warm water when it first forms. Cover it with a bandage and petroleum jelly to prevent it from popping. They will usually go away on their own within a week.

As for a brown recluse spider, a blister from its bite could be more serious. After the blister forms, it falls off and leaves a deep, enlarging ulcer in its place. If it resolves on its own, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if a spreading ulceration or redness and infection occur, seek immediate medical attention. These bites can be especially dangerous for small children.

Most insect-related blisters will disappear once you're no longer exposed to the insect. Therefore, the best treatment is seeking solutions to help you deal with an insect invasion in your home. Contact your nearest pest control service for chemical and non-chemical options to help get rid of insects.

Friction, Pinching, or Crushing of the Outer Layer of Skin

If a fresh pair of shoes, a tool handle, or any other thing rubs against your skin, briefly and intensely, it is likely to cause blistering. Pinching or crushing the skin's outer layer, resulting in the rupture of tiny blood vessels close to the skin, often causes blood blisters.

A friction blister will disappear within a few hours of stopping the friction. So, if you’re wearing tight shoes, you’ll get relief as soon as you remove the shoe from the foot that hurts. The same applies to blood blisters caused by pinching of the skin.

As for treatment, blood blisters should be left alone. They will usually heal on their own after one to two weeks. To protect it, you can cover it with a bandage and use ice or over-the-counter pain killers if it hurts. If the pain persists and the blister needs to be drained, contact your doctor.


There are medical conditions that cause blistering such as chickenpox, eczema, herpes, and impetigo. Other disease-causing blisters may include:

  • Bullous pemphigoid
  • Cutaneous radiation syndrome
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Dyshidrosis
  • Epidermolysis bullosa
  • Pemphigus

Blisters caused by diseases are often among the symptoms of the disease. Most of the time, the blisters will diminish or even disappear as you receive treatment for the underlying disease. However, your doctor may also prescribe inflammation-reducing corticosteroids, either in cream or pill form, to address the blistering. If blistering is a result of autoimmune diseases, your doctor may prescribe immunosuppressants.

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