What is a Water Blister?

Water blisters are commonly seen on hands.
Wearing protective gloves may help prevent water blisters from developing on the hands.
Applying lotion to the affected hand helps soothe a water blister.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
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Water blisters are eruptions on the surface of the skin that contain a clear liquid just under the skin. Similar in nature to a blood blister, the water blister is usually caused by the application of excess friction to the skin, or contact with extremely hot objects. While a blister of this type is sometimes painless, there is often at least some pain and tenderness to the general area of the skin where the blister develops.

One of the most common ways to develop a water blister is by wearing shoes that are not a proper fit for the foot. As the material of the shoe rubs against the surface of the foot, the resulting friction will irritate the skin. As part of the natural reaction, the defenses of the body will begin to gather fluid into the area of the irritation as a means of protecting the tissue underneath the epidermal layer. It is not unusual for blisters on the feet to develop in a matter of hours under these conditions.

Along with feet, it is very common to experience a water blister on the hands. In some cases, the blister comes about due to manual labor. For example, an individual who is not used to working with a shovel may find that a water blister develops in the area between the thumb and index finger, where the handle of the shovel rubs against the hand while digging.

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A water blister can also develop as the result of exposure to excess heat. Absent-minded cooks who grasp the handle of a skillet or pot without using an oven mitt or other protection may sustain a burn that turns into a water blister. Generally, there is a combination of pain from the burn as well as some discomfort from the presence of the blister itself.

There are several ways to prevent the development of a water blister. In terms of footwear, it is a good idea to purchase shoes that are a proper fit. If possible, stretch the shoe slightly before wearing for extended periods of time. To protect the hands when gardening, wear protective gloves that minimize the friction between the skin and any tools used in the process. When cooking, always wear protective mittens when removing cookware from the oven or lifting a pot or pan off the eye of a stove.

One of the most common mistakes people make when dealing with a water blister is to pierce the skin to allow the excess water to drain out. This can be dangerous, since the underlying layers of tissue are no longer protected by the water and may become subject to infection. In most cases, it is recommended to apply soothing lotion to the blister and cover it with a sterile bandage. Over several days, the body will reabsorb the underlying liquid and the raised area of skin will dry and eventually flake off on its own.

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Discuss this Article

anon965680
Post 7

Is a water blister dangerous to others?

anon294361
Post 5

I just popped my water blister and the nurse freaked.

anon145501
Post 4

what exactly is the watery fluid inside the blister?

anon105959
Post 3

I got like literally a blister with a diameter of almost one inch and it barely flaked off today, but oh, was it painful to avoid walking on it. Friction + heat at the beach = disaster!!!

pharmchick78
Post 2

If you really can't stand waiting for the blister to go away, it is OK to drain the blister with a sterile needle, as long as you clean and bandage it immediately afterward.

However, it is really better to leave it to heal on its own, because once you open it to drain it, it is an open wound and susceptible to bacterial infection. Besides, if you leave it to heal on its own, it will form a callus, which can be good if you're going to have continual friction on that area.

naturesgurl3
Post 1

I know that you're not supposed to pop water blisters, but is it really that bad to do so? What kind of things can happen if you do pop one?

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