Health
Fact Checked

What is a Water Blister?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

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.

Wearing protective gloves may help prevent water blisters from developing on the hands.
Wearing protective gloves may help prevent water blisters from developing on the hands.

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.

Applying lotion to the affected hand helps soothe a water blister.
Applying lotion to the affected hand helps soothe a water blister.

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.

Water blisters are commonly seen on hands.
Water blisters are commonly seen on hands.

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.

Making sure to wear oven mitts when cooking can help prevent water blisters.
Making sure to wear oven mitts when cooking can help prevent water blisters.

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.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon965680

Is a water blister dangerous to others?

anon294361

I just popped my water blister and the nurse freaked.

anon145501

what exactly is the watery fluid inside the blister?

anon105959

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

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

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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    • Wearing protective gloves may help prevent water blisters from developing on the hands.
      By: leschnyhan
      Wearing protective gloves may help prevent water blisters from developing on the hands.
    • Applying lotion to the affected hand helps soothe a water blister.
      By: roblan
      Applying lotion to the affected hand helps soothe a water blister.
    • Water blisters are commonly seen on hands.
      By: yevgeniy11
      Water blisters are commonly seen on hands.
    • Making sure to wear oven mitts when cooking can help prevent water blisters.
      By: Africa Studio
      Making sure to wear oven mitts when cooking can help prevent water blisters.
    • Treatment for blisters may include wrapping the blisters to keep them from bursting.
      By: Y. L. Photographies
      Treatment for blisters may include wrapping the blisters to keep them from bursting.
    • Ill-fitting shoes may cause water blisters on the feet.
      By: Cheryl Casey
      Ill-fitting shoes may cause water blisters on the feet.
    • Antibiotic cream and a sterile bandage may help heal an infected water blister.
      By: Sherry Young
      Antibiotic cream and a sterile bandage may help heal an infected water blister.