Itchy bumps filled with clear fluid are usually blisters. Blisters have many possible causes and will often heal without treatment.
A blister is a raised part of the skin that fills with clear fluid. Blisters usually develop to protect injured skin and help it heal.
Blisters have several potential causes, including skin friction, viral infections, and exposure to certain chemicals.
In this article, we discuss the causes of itchy, clear fluid-filled bumps. We also examine the associated symptoms and treatments and explain when to seek advice from a doctor.
In most cases, itchy bumps containing clear liquid are blisters. They may develop on areas of the body where rubbing or friction typically occurs, such as the hands or feet.
The fluid in blisters contains serum, plasma, or pus. Blisters may be:
- bubbly and a different color than the surrounding skin
- skin colored
Scratching or picking at blisters could rupture the protective covering over the damaged skin, leading to discomfort or infection. If the blister stays intact, the skin underneath may heal more quickly.
Depending on the cause of the bumps, other symptoms may occur alongside them, such as fever.
The skin may develop itchy fluid-filled bumps as a result of several issues, including those below:
Blisters can develop as a result of skin injuries, including:
- friction or rubbing
- exposure to certain chemicals, such as cosmetics or detergents
- crushing or pinching
- extremely high or low temperatures that cause burns or frostbite
Some blisters are painful, and they can be itchy. Although most blisters heal without treatment, severe blisters may take longer to heal or require treatment.
A person should avoid popping blisters, which can increase the chance of infection. Covering the blister with a Band-Aid can provide additional protection while it heals.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that commonly affects children. There are many types of eczema, some of which cause blisters.
For example, dyshidrotic eczema produces small itchy blisters on the hands and feet. The blisters typically occur on the:
- palms of the hands
- sides of the fingers
- soles of the feet
- edges of the feet
There is often intense itching and a burning sensation in the affected area, and the skin may appear red or discolored and crack around the blisters. Sometimes, the blisters can become infected.
Regularly cleaning the affected area will help a person reduce the likelihood of infection and help improve symptoms.
Doctors may suggest corticosteroids to treat the blisters for some people.
People can often prevent the blisters from occurring by avoiding known triggers for eczema flare-ups, such as cosmetic products or metals, and regularly applying moisturizer. They may also find it helpful to minimize the time they spend with their hands in the water — for example, by wearing gloves for washing dishes or cleaning.
Certain infections can cause blisters to develop on the skin. These infections include:
Other symptoms may also occur alongside the blisters, depending on the infection.
For example, impetigo is a bacterial infection that initially
Some forms of herpes affect the genitals,
Shingles is a rash that
Treatments for infections that cause blisters will vary depending on the cause. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, such as impetigo. For viral infections, such as shingles, doctors may suggest antiviral medications in more severe cases.
Some common antiviral medications include:
- acyclovir (Zovirax)
- famciclovir (Famvir)
- valacyclovir (Valtrex)
Vaccinations are an effective way of preventing many viruses.
Allergies can irritate the skin. For example, contact dermatitis is a skin reaction to an irritant or allergen. Substances that may cause skin reactions in some people include cosmetic products and laundry detergents.
Allergies can also cause hives to break out. Hives are bumps or welts that develop anywhere on the skin and appear red in people with lighter skin tones. They can cause the skin to become hot and swollen.
People can prevent skin allergies by avoiding triggers. Common triggers for skin allergies include:
- scented soaps
- certain metals, such as nickel
- poison ivy
- hand sanitizers
Some medications, such as antihistamines, can help treat symptoms of allergies.
Bullous pemphigoid is a rare autoimmune disorder that causes blisters, hives, and itching on the skin. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system is overactive and mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
If a person has bullous pemphigoid, blisters and hives may develop on the:
The blisters may contain clear or bloody fluids.
Doctors usually use anti-inflammatory medications, such as topical or oral steroids, to treat bullous pemphigoid blisters. In severe cases of the disorder, doctors may use medicines that suppress the immune system.
A doctor will determine the cause of itchy fluid-filled bumps by examining them and checking for distinctive features of each cause. They might also ask about fever and other symptoms.
In addition, the doctor may ask about recent activities to rule out common allergies. In cases of burns or frostbite, the cause will be visually clear.
Home remedies that may help alleviate itchy blisters include:
- aloe vera
- petroleum jelly
- coconut oil
- lemon balm
A person can often prevent itchy bumps by avoiding circumstances where friction or rubbing may injure the skin. For example, they can only wear shoes and clothing that fit properly and use bandages or padding to cover any skin areas at risk of blistering.
Vaccinations are an effective way of preventing viruses that can cause blisters. Practicing good hygiene and regularly cleaning any wounds may reduce the risk of bacterial infections.
To avoid allergy flare-ups, a person should identify potential triggers to avoid. This process can involve some trial and error.
Most blisters heal without treatment from a doctor, but some injuries may require medical assistance. For example, a person should see a doctor for frostbite or moderate-to-severe burns. Some infections, such as shingles, may also require medical treatment.
Doctors can also help identify allergy triggers by using a skin prick test to check for common allergies.
Itchy fluid-filled bumps are usually blisters. Blisters have various possible causes, including injuries and medical conditions. Some blisters may occur alongside other symptoms, such as fever.
It is possible to prevent some blisters by avoiding skin friction, contact with irritants, or allergy triggers.
Most blisters tend to go away without treatment. However, people may need treatment from a doctor if their injury, infection, allergy, or skin condition is severe.
Over-the-counter treatments and home remedies are available to help a person ease itching, pain, and discomfort as the blisters heal.