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Vesicles

Show Alternative Names
Blisters

A vesicle is a small fluid-filled blister on the skin.

Considerations

A vesicle is small. It may be as tiny as the top of a pin or up to 5 millimeters wide. A larger blister is called a bulla.

In many cases, vesicles break easily and release their fluid onto the skin. When this fluid dries, yellow crusts may remain on the skin surface.

Causes

Many diseases and conditions can cause vesicles. Common examples include:

Home Care

It is best to have your health care provider examine any skin rashes, including vesicles.

Over-the-counter treatments are available for certain conditions that cause vesicles, including poison ivy and cold sores.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have any unexplained blisters on your skin.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will look at your skin. Some vesicles can be diagnosed simply by how they look.

In many cases, additional tests are needed. The fluid inside a blister may be sent to a lab for closer examination. In particularly difficult cases, a skin biopsy may be needed to make or confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment will depend on the cause of the vesicles.

Text only

Review Date: 6/19/2021

Reviewed By

Ramin Fathi, MD, FAAD, Director, Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, Phoenix, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

References

Dinulos JGH. Vesicular and bullous diseases. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 16.

Marks JG, Miller JJ. Vesicles and bullae. In: Marks JG, Miller JJ, eds. Lookingbill and Marks' Principles of Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 10.

Disclaimer

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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Images
Bullous pemphigoid - close-up of tense blisters - Illustration Thumbnail

Bullous pemphigoid - close-up of tense blisters

Bullous pemphigoid is a blistering skin condition that most often affects the elderly. This is a close-up picture of the typical blisters. Large blisters, like these, are called bullae.

Illustration

Chigger bite - close-up of blisters - Illustration Thumbnail

Chigger bite - close-up of blisters

Chigger bites are caused by the larvae of the chigger. The bite produces blisters (vesicles) and bleeding into the skin (purpura). These bites itch intensely and are usually located on exposed areas of the skin where the chigger larvae have access. This photograph demonstrates vesicle formation following the bites.

Illustration

Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the soles - Illustration Thumbnail

Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the soles

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is cause by a coxsackie virus. It produces mouth ulcers and small blisters (vesicles) on the hands and feet. The vesicles often have a reddish border with a white or lighter colored area in the center.

Illustration

Herpes simplex - close-up - Illustration Thumbnail

Herpes simplex - close-up

This close-up view of an early herpes outbreak shows small, grouped blisters and a lot of redness.

Illustration

Herpes zoster (shingles) - close-up of lesion - Illustration Thumbnail

Herpes zoster (shingles) - close-up of lesion

A close-up picture of herpes zoster skin lesions. Four small blisters are shown with redness around them. These vesicles will break, crust over, scab, and finally heal.

Illustration

Poison ivy on the knee - Illustration Thumbnail

Poison ivy on the knee

This is a typical early appearance of a poison ivy rash, located on the knee. These early lesions consist of multiple small blisters (vesicles), often in a line where the skin has brushed against the poison ivy plant.

Illustration

Poison ivy on the leg - Illustration Thumbnail

Poison ivy on the leg

This is a typical early appearance of a poison ivy rash, located on the leg. These early lesions consist of multiple small blisters, often in a line where the skin has brushed against the poison ivy plant. The rash is caused by skin contact with the oily sap (resin) of these plants. The oily resin usually enters the skin rapidly, and is seldom transferred from person to person. The rash is not caused by the fluid from the blisters. Thus, once the person has washed the oil off the skin, the rash is usually not contagious.

Illustration

Vesicles - Illustration Thumbnail

Vesicles

A vesicle, or blister, is a thin-walled sac filled with a fluid, usually clear and small. Vesicle is an important term used to describe the appearance of many rashes that typically consist of or begin with tiny-to-small fluid-filled blisters.

Illustration

Bullous pemphigoid - close-up of tense blisters - Illustration Thumbnail

Bullous pemphigoid - close-up of tense blisters

Bullous pemphigoid is a blistering skin condition that most often affects the elderly. This is a close-up picture of the typical blisters. Large blisters, like these, are called bullae.

Illustration

Chigger bite - close-up of blisters - Illustration Thumbnail

Chigger bite - close-up of blisters

Chigger bites are caused by the larvae of the chigger. The bite produces blisters (vesicles) and bleeding into the skin (purpura). These bites itch intensely and are usually located on exposed areas of the skin where the chigger larvae have access. This photograph demonstrates vesicle formation following the bites.

Illustration

Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the soles - Illustration Thumbnail

Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the soles

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is cause by a coxsackie virus. It produces mouth ulcers and small blisters (vesicles) on the hands and feet. The vesicles often have a reddish border with a white or lighter colored area in the center.

Illustration

Herpes simplex - close-up - Illustration Thumbnail

Herpes simplex - close-up

This close-up view of an early herpes outbreak shows small, grouped blisters and a lot of redness.

Illustration

Herpes zoster (shingles) - close-up of lesion - Illustration Thumbnail

Herpes zoster (shingles) - close-up of lesion

A close-up picture of herpes zoster skin lesions. Four small blisters are shown with redness around them. These vesicles will break, crust over, scab, and finally heal.

Illustration

Poison ivy on the knee - Illustration Thumbnail

Poison ivy on the knee

This is a typical early appearance of a poison ivy rash, located on the knee. These early lesions consist of multiple small blisters (vesicles), often in a line where the skin has brushed against the poison ivy plant.

Illustration

Poison ivy on the leg - Illustration Thumbnail

Poison ivy on the leg

This is a typical early appearance of a poison ivy rash, located on the leg. These early lesions consist of multiple small blisters, often in a line where the skin has brushed against the poison ivy plant. The rash is caused by skin contact with the oily sap (resin) of these plants. The oily resin usually enters the skin rapidly, and is seldom transferred from person to person. The rash is not caused by the fluid from the blisters. Thus, once the person has washed the oil off the skin, the rash is usually not contagious.

Illustration

Vesicles - Illustration Thumbnail

Vesicles

A vesicle, or blister, is a thin-walled sac filled with a fluid, usually clear and small. Vesicle is an important term used to describe the appearance of many rashes that typically consist of or begin with tiny-to-small fluid-filled blisters.

Illustration

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 
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