A blister (bulla, or, when small, a vesicle) is a bubble of fluid that forms beneath a thin layer of dead skin. The fluid is a mixture of water and proteins that oozes from injured tissue. Blisters most commonly form in response to a specific injury, such as a burn or irritation, and usually involve only the topmost layers of skin. These blisters heal quickly, usually without leaving a scar. Blisters that develop as part of a systemic (bodywide) disease may start in the deeper layers of the skin and cover widespread areas. These blisters heal more slowly and may leave scars.
Many diseases and injuries can cause blistering, but three autoimmune diseases Autoimmune Disorders An autoimmune disorder is a malfunction of the body's immune system that causes the body to attack its own tissues. What triggers autoimmune disorders is not known. Symptoms vary depending on... read more are among the most serious:
In an autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is designed to defend the body against foreign or dangerous invaders. Such invaders include Microorganisms (commonly called germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) Parasites... read more , which normally protects the body against foreign invaders, mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues—in this case, the skin. Other autoimmune blistering disorders include
Epidermolysis bullosa acquisita
Linear immunoglobulin A disease
Other blistering disorders include staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome is a complication of a staphylococcal skin infection in which the skin blisters and peels off as though burned. In addition to the blistered, peeling skin... read more , toxic epidermal necrolysis Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are two forms of the same life-threatening skin disease that cause rash, skin peeling, and sores on the mucous membranes. (See also Introduction... read more , severe cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is a spreading bacterial infection of the skin and the tissues immediately beneath the skin. This infection is most often caused by streptococci or staphylococci. Redness, pain, and... read more , and certain drug rashes Drug Rashes Drug rashes are a side effect of a drug that manifests as a skin reaction. Drug rashes usually are caused by an allergic reaction to a drug. Typical symptoms include redness, bumps, blisters... read more .
Although burns and repeated friction (for example from wearing tight shoes or using a shovel for a long time) are a common cause of blisters, these are not considered blistering disorders.
More Information about Blistering Disorders
The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
National Organization for Rare Disorders: Information about autoimmune blistering diseases, including links to resources and supporting organizations