What causes blisters on fingers, hands and feet? A look at the blisters on hands, fingers, and the feet including the burn, pictures and the treatment.
Blisters on hands
A blister, which is also known as a vesicle by the medical doctors, is a raised part of the skin that is normally filled with fluid. You are probably very familiar with the blisters from wearing of uncomfortable shoes for too long.
Blisters on hands are the small raised areas that are normally filled with fluid and are located in the superficial layer of the skin. They appear like bubbles on the surface of the skin. Although they are caused by an irritation or friction, blisters may also represent disease processes.
Blisters can also accompany some types of the skin rashes and inflammatory conditions, including certain autoimmune diseases. Depending on the cause of the blisters, blisters can occur singly or in groups. In contrast to the abscesses and boils, which are the collections of inflammatory fluid that are found deep in the tissues, blisters are normally found in the most superficial layer of skin.
A blister is a bubble of fluid under the skin. The clear, watery liquid inside a blister is called serum. It leaks in from neighboring tissues as a reaction to injured skin. If the blister remains unopened, serum can provide natural protection for the skin beneath it. Small blisters are called vesicles. Those larger than half an inch are called bullae. A blood blister is filled with blood, rather than serum.
Small fluid-filled blisters on hands are medically known as vesicles. Bullae are blisters that are larger than 1 cm across.
This common cause of blistering produces vesicles when friction between the skin and the shoe leads to layers of skin to separate and then fill with a fluid.
Blisters are normally annoying, painful, or uncomfortable. In most of the cases, they are not a symptom of anything serious and can heal without any further medical intervention.
Some infections can lead to skin blistering that needs treatment. And in very rare cases a skin condition may produce blisters. If you ever have unexplained blistering on the skin, you should see the doctor for a diagnosis.
If you know the cause of the blisters on hands, then you can treat them by covering with bandages to keep it much protected. Eventually the fluids can seep back in and the blister may disappear. At times, leaving the blister heal by itself without doing anything will be better.
You should not puncture a blister unless it is painful, as the skin over the fluid protects you from infection.
There are several temporary causes of blisters on hands. Friction happens when something rubs against the skin for a prolonged period of time. This happens most commonly on the hands and feet.
Contact dermatitis can also lead to blisters. This is a skin reaction to the allergens, like poison ivy, latex, adhesives, or even irritants like chemicals or pesticides. It can lead to red, inflamed skin and blistering.
Burns, if severe enough, can also produce blistering. This includes burns from the heat, chemicals, and even sunburns.
Allergic eczema is a skin condition that is brought about or worsened by allergens and may also produce blisters. Another type of eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, also leads to blistering, but its cause is unknown, and it tends to come and disappear.
Blistering can also be a symptom of certain infections.
Impetigo, a bacterial infection of the skin that can occur in both children and adults, can cause blisters.
Chickenpox, an infection caused by a virus, produces itchy spots, and often blisters on the skin.
The same virus that leads to chickenpox also lead to blisters on hands. The virus reappears in some other people later in life and then produces a skin rash with fluid vesicles that can be able to rupture.
Herpes and the resulting cold sores can lead to skin blistering.
Erysipelas is an infection brought about by the Streptococcus group of bacteria, which produces skin blisters as a symptom.
More rarely, blisters on hands are the due to a skin condition. For most of these rare conditions, the cause is unknown.
Blisters on Hands Causes
The common causes of hands blistering are;
- Irritation — blisters on hands can be brought about by physical factors that normally irritates the skin, such as friction, irritating chemicals or extreme cold or heat. Blisters on the feet can result from the shoes that are either too tight or even rub the skin in one area.
Blisters also can be brought about by contact dermatitis, a skin reaction to some type of chemical irritant. Intense cold can be able to trigger frostbite that often leads to blisters once the skin is rewarmed. Any other type of burn, even sunburn, also can lead to blisters.
- Allergies — Allergic contact dermatitis, a form of dermatitis or eczema, can lead to blisters on hands. Allergic contact dermatitis is brought about by an allergy to a chemical or poison, such as poison ivy or poison sumac.
- Infections — Infections that lead to blisters on hands include bullous impetigo, an infection of the skin brought about by staphylococci bacteria; viral infections of the lips and the genital area due to the herpes simplex virus (both types 1 and 2); chickenpox and shingles that are caused by the varicella zoster virus; and coxsackievirus infections that are very common in childhood.
- Skin diseases — several skin diseases lead to blisters. Examples are dermatitis herpetiformis and pemphigus. There also are inherited forms of blistering skin conditions, such as epidermolysis bullosa (in which pressure or trauma commonly leads to the blisters) and porphyria cutanea tarda (in which sun exposure leads to blisters).
- Medications — most medications, such as nalidixic acid and furosemide, can lead to mild, blistering skin reactions. Others, such as the doxycycline, can also increase the risk of blistering sunburn by increasing the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. In more dramatic cases, medications can trigger very severe, even life-threatening, blistering disorders, such as the erythema multiforme or toxic epidermal necrolysis, an illness that leads to severe skin damage and typically involves about 40% or more of the body’s surface.
Blisters on Fingers
At first, there are several tiny blisters in the skin of the hands or feet. They are normally located on the palms or fingers of the hands (usually on the sides of the fingers) and on the soles or even the toes of the feet.
The blisters can feel itchy or even burning. Sometimes the small blisters may merge so as to form larger ones. As the blisters start to heal, the skin goes through the dry stage where there are cracks or peeling skin.
If there is severe pompholyx near the fingernails or toenails, then the nails may have ridges, or there may be swelling at the base of the nail (called paronychia).
Sometimes the blisters or skin cracks may get infected. If so, there may be yellow fluid (pus) in the blisters or even the cracks. Or, there can be increasing redness, pain, swelling or the crusting of the affected skin. See a doctor urgently if you have the symptoms or if you suspect an infection.
Blisters on hands and Feet
Pompholyx is a type of eczema where there are itchy blisters on the hands and feet, followed by inflamed and dry skin. It can be a temporary condition, or in some cases, is very persistent. There are several treatments that can help.
This type of eczema is a form of hand and foot eczema that is characterized by vesicles or bullae. It is a form of vesicular dermatitis of hands and feet, also known as vesicular endogenous eczema, and can be the same condition as dyshidrotic eczema. It is sometimes sub classified as cheiropompholyx (for the hands) and pedopompholyx (for the feet).
Pompholyx is a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters on hands and irritation. (Eczema is a condition causing skin inflammation.) Pompholyx is also called dyshidrotic eczema or vesicular eczema of the hands and feet.
This inflammation presents as recurrent crops of the deep-seated blisters on the palms and soles. They lead to intense itch or a burning sensation. The blisters peel off and the skin then appears red, dry and has painful fissures.
When involving the distal finger adjacent or proximal to the nail fold, it can lead to in paronychia (nail fold swelling) and nail dystrophy with an irregular pitting and ridges.
The exact cause is not well known (as with eczema). However, there seem to be some other factors that might be involved in leading to or triggering the condition. These are:
- Metals such as nickel or cobalt (either on the skin, or in food).
- An antibiotic called neomycin (this is not often used).
- Certain chemicals – for example, perfumes.
- Fungal infection of the skin (see below).
- Emotional stress.
- A link with HIV infection and its treatment has been identified.
- A rare form that runs in families has also been discovered.
Pompholyx can be aggravated by anything that is irritant to the skin, such as the detergents, various solvent-type chemicals and water (if there is frequent or prolonged contact with the water).
This inflammation probably affects about 1 in every 20 people who have blisters on hands. It is less common after middle age and in the older people. It is slightly very common in women than in men. It occurs more often in the spring and summer and is more common in warmer countries.
Burn Blisters on hands
How long it takes to recover from a burn or scald depends on how serious it is and how it’s treated. If the wound becomes much infected, then a person should seek further medical attention.
If the burn or scald is very mild and treated at home, it usually heals without the need for further treatment.
While the skin heals, keep the area clean and don’t apply any creams or greasy substances. Don’t burst any blisters as this can lead to infection.
If you’ve scalded the inside of the mouth by drinking something very hot, try to avoid things that can irritate the scalded area, such as hot and spicy food, alcohol and smoking, until the area completely heals.
Mild burns or scalds that only affect the uppermost layer of skin (superficial epidermal burns) usually heal in about a week without any scarring.
If you have a burn or scald that needs medical treatment, it will be assessed to determine the level of care needed.
The healthcare professional treating you will:
- assess the size and even the depth of the burn by examining the area
- clean the burn, being careful not to burst the blisters
- cover the burn with a sterile dressing – usually a pad and a gauze bandage to hold it in place
- offer you pain relief if necessary – usually paracetamol
Depending on how the burn happened, you may be advised to have an injection to prevent tetanus, a condition caused by bacteria entering a wound. For example, a tetanus injection may be recommended if there’s a chance soil got into the wound.
The dressing is to be checked after 24 hours to make sure that there are no any signs of infection. It will be changed after every 48 hours, and then every three to five days until it’s completely healed.
Minor burns affecting the outer layer of skin and some of the underlying layer of tissue (superficial dermal burns) normally heal in around 14 days, leaving minimal scarring.
If the burn is severe, you may be referred to a specialist. In some cases, it may be necessary to have surgery to remove the burnt area of skin and replace it with a skin graft taken from another part of your body.
More severe and deeper burns can take months or even years to fully heal, and usually leave some visible scarring.
Blisters on Child’s Hands or Baby
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is caused by a virus. Symptoms are the ulcers, or sores, inside or around the mouth, and blisters on hands, feet, or buttocks. And while it’s not pleasant, it also isn’t serious.
Anyone can get the disease, but children under the age of 10 are more likely to catch it. You can take various steps to ease the symptoms while it runs its course, though.
The child can be infected with hand-foot-and-mouth through contact with someone who has it, or from something that’s been in contact with a virus, like a toy or doorknob. It tends to spread much easily in the summer and fall.
Blisters on hands Treatment or How to Get Rid
Most of the blisters needs no treatment. If you leave them alone, they will disappear, and the top skin layers to prevent infection.
If possible, you should refrain from puncturing or breaking them open. Blisters that are brought about by friction, allergens, and burns are temporary reactions to stimuli. In these cases, the best treatment is to avoid what is causing your skin to blister.
The blisters that are caused by infections are also temporary, but they may require treatment. If you suspect you may have some type of infection, you should see the doctor.
In addition to the medication for the infection, the doctor can be able to give you something to treat the symptoms. If there is a known cause for the blisters, like the contact with a certain chemical or use of a drug, use of that product should be discontinued.
Some conditions that can lead to blisters on hands, such as pemphigus, do not have a cure. The doctor can prescribe treatments that will help you to just manage symptoms. This can include steroid creams that can relieve skin rashes or antibiotics to cure skin infections.
In most of the cases, blisters are not part of a life-threatening condition. Most will disappear without treatment, but may bring you pain and discomfort in the meantime.
The quantity of blisters on hands that you have, and whether they have ruptured or have become infected is crucial in the prognosis of the condition. If you treat an infection that is leading to the blisters, the outlook is very good. For rare skin conditions, how well treatments work will depend on the individual situation.
For the most common of blisters on hands especially those that are caused by friction on the skin of the feet then you can practice basic preventive measures. Always wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
If you will be walking for a longer period of time, then use thickly cushioned socks to reduce friction. As you walk, you may feel a blister starting to form. Stop and protect this area of skin with a bandage to prevent further friction.
As with eczema generally, moisturizing creams or ointments are useful for a dry, peeling or cracked skin and to act as a barrier against any water or chemicals. There are several varied brands, which can be found over the counter or prescribed. Speak to the pharmacist or doctor for suggestions.
Steroids can be much helpful as they reduce inflammation – this can reduce irritation and assist the skin to heal. Steroids are best used as a short-term remedy or in low doses, otherwise side-effects may come by.
The usual steroid treatment for pompholyx is a short course of a high-strength steroid cream or an ointment, used on the affected areas of the skin. If the skin is blistered or even wet, a cream type will work best. For the dry or thick skin, ointment works better. High-strength steroids should not be applied for more than about two weeks, without medical advice.
In more severe cases of pompholyx, steroid tablets may be used. They are very effective but, again, may have the side-effects, so are only used if really necessary.