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What Causes Blood Blisters?

Blood blisters aren't pretty, which is why knowing how to prevent them can save your skin.

Ever experience painful, often thought of as unattractive, and just plain annoying blisters filled with blood—also known as blood blisters? In many cases, knowing what causes these blisters can help prevent them from happening in the future.

What are Blood Blisters?

Blood blisters happen when blood vessels get damaged (rupture and bleed) near the skin’s surface. It might occur if you get pinched or your skin rubs against something, but the skin's surface doesn’t break open. When this happens, the blood can’t escape, so it pools beneath a bubble on the surface of the skin. It’s similar to a bruise. Blood blisters can be:

  • Painful
  • Red, dark red, purplish or blackish in color
  • Often found on toes, feet, fingers, hands, or the inside of your mouth
  • Bumps raised up higher than the rest of the skin

Causes

Causes of blood blisters generally involve friction or rubbing against the skin's surface, which may include:

  • Pinching of the skin
  • Skin rubbing against something (shoes, etc.)
  • Poor fitting shoes
  • Playing sports when you’re on your feet or hands a lot (running, gymnastics, dancing, etc.)
  • Weightlifting (holding barbells or dumbbells)
  • Stubbing your toe
  • Kicking something hard
  • Using tools that repeatedly rub against your hands (hammer, etc.)
  • Friction on inside of your mouth (from braces, retainers, or biting the inside of your mouth)

Blood Blister Prevention

While you can’t always prevent blood blisters from happening, do the following to help avoid pinching or friction of your skin.

  • Wear shoes that fit well and are broken in
  • Wear gloves when raking, hammering, weightlifting, gardening etc.

Treatment

Blood blisters generally don’t require medical treatment, as they often heal over time. Cover the blister with a bandage to prevent further friction (from shoes, etc.), especially if it’s painful. Popping blood blisters isn’t the best idea, as this can make the skin underneath raw and painful—and increases the chance of infection. If skin covering the blister is ruptured or pops allowing blood underneath to escape, the dark color of the blister should begin to disappear. When this happens, treat the open blister with antiseptic ointment to prevent infection.

When to Call a Doctor

If your blister isn’t going away, appears to be getting worse, more blisters appear, or you notice signs of infection (inflammation, redness or warmth), it’s time to contact your doctor.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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