Blistering Diseases

Individuals with blistering diseases have large blisters on their skin measuring at least one centimeter in diameter. These blisters are usually caused by inflammation in or under the epidermal layer of skin. In addition to being caused by specific blistering diseases, large skin blisters can also be caused by viruses, bacterial infections, herpes, diabetes, and some autoimmune disorders.

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Symptoms of blistering diseases include:

  • Fluid-filled skin lesions
  • Large blisters (at least 1 cm diameter)
  • Rashes
  • Itchy patches of skin
  • Red patches
  • Skin sores
  • Pain
  • Burning or stinging
  • Swelling

Types of Blistering Diseases

  • Contact dermatitis: an allergic reaction that occurs after contact with an allergen. Contact dermatitis may lead to significant blistering, especially when caused by certain chemicals and substances.
  • Impetigo: a common, highly contagious skin infection that mostly affects children and infants. Red sores and blisters may form on the face, hands, and feet.
  • Erythema and erythroderma: inflammatory skin disease that causes scaling and blistering. In erythroderma, the lesions cover over 90 percent of the body.
  • Pemphigus and bullous pemphigoid: rare autoimmune diseases that can cause large blisters on the body. Blisters can be extensive and may cause infection, disfigurement, and disability if untreated. Active treatment is necessary to allow for normal every living.
  • Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome: an illness caused by toxigenic strains of certain bacteria. It causes red blistering that looks like scalding or burning.


Treatment for blistering diseases focuses on relieving symptoms, reducing inflammation, and preventing or treating any infections. Topical steroids and immunosuppressants are especially useful, as are oral antihistamines where an allergic reaction has occurred.