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What Are the Causes of Blisters on Hands & Feet?

author image Gianna Rose
Gianna Rose is a registered nurse certified in hospice and palliative care, as well as a certified wellness coach. She completed Duke Integrative Medicine's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course in 2009. Rose also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
What Are the Causes of Blisters on Hands & Feet?
Blisters on the hands and feet can be a puzzling symptom. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Blisters are commonly caused by friction from tight shoes, herpes, chicken pox, poison ivy and allergic reactions. More uncommon are disorders that only cause blisters on the hands and feet. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis if you have blisters on your hands and feet, particularly from an unknown cause.

Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

Hand-foot-mouth disease, or HFMD, causes blisters on the hands and feet. It's a contagious disorder caused by infection that spreads through direct contact with infected saliva, fluid from blisters and stool. HFMD typically begins with a sore throat and ulcerations on the tonsils, throat, tongue and mouth. The palms of the hands and soles of the feet develop small, painful blisters with white centers and red borders. There is no specific treatment, and the infection usually resolves within three to seven days. Complications include dehydration and seizures caused by fever.


Pompholyx is chronic skin condition that causes itchy blisters on the palms, the sides of the fingers and the feet. The blisters -- typically scaly and red -- ooze fluid. The cause of pompholyx is unknown. Flare ups commonly last two or three weeks, and resolve over the course of several weeks. Compresses soaked in potassium permanganate or Burrow's solution are used to help the blisters heal. Topical steroids decrease inflammation and itching. Antibiotics and light therapy are also used to treat pompholyx.

Localized Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex

Localized epidermolysis bullosa simplex is an inherited disorder characterized by skin blistering. The disorder usually begins when a child who carries the genes for the disorder begins to walk. Usually limited to the hands and feet, blisters form when the top layer of the skin separates from the connective tissue beneath it when exposed to friction, heat or mild trauma. Blisters usually occur after unusual walking or using hand tools in hot weather. Sufferers typically develop thickened skin on the palms and soles.

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