Blister (Child)

A blister is a raised area of skin with watery fluid inside. A blister can happen when the skin is damaged. Blisters can hurt when they are pressed, or if they break open.

Blisters in children can be caused by many things. The most common cause is if the skin is rubbed too hard or often. This causes friction. Blisters can also occur if the skin is hurt by the sun (sunburn), a virus or other infection, an allergic reaction, such as poison ivy, an insect bite or sting, or even a medicine. Babies who are breastfeeding can have sucking blisters (sucking pads or calluses) on the inside of their lips. Babies can also have sucking blisters on their fingers or hands soon after birth. These blisters started in the mother’s uterus.

Most blisters need little treatment. They often dry up and go away in a few days to weeks after the cause is addressed. A blister may need to be cleaned. A broken (open) blister may be bandaged to prevent infection. Blisters caused by insect bites or medicine reactions may be more serious These should be examined by a healthcare provider.

Home care

The healthcare provider may prescribe pain medicine. They may also prescribe an antibiotic cream or ointment to put on an open blister. Follow all instructions when using these medicines.

General care

  • Follow all instructions on how to care for the blister. If a bandage was put on, change the bandage as instructed. Children have sensitive skin that can be easily damaged by sticky bandages.

  • If the blister breaks, the area will leak a clear fluid for 1 or 2 days. Wash the area with soap and water every day, or as directed by your child’s healthcare provider.

  • If your baby has lip blisters, keep feeding them as usual. As your child’s lips get used to sucking, they will heal. This may take up to a few months.

  • Make sure a baby with mouth blisters takes in enough fluids. This is to prevent dehydration. Talk with your child's provider if your baby is not getting enough fluids.

  • If your child gets blisters often, talk with the provider about how to prevent them. Dress them in clothes that are loose and don’t rub. Have your child stay out of the sun, or apply sunscreen as directed.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever (See "Fever and children" below)

  • Redness or swelling that is new or gets worse

  • Foul-smelling fluid leaking from the blister

  • Pain doesn’t go away, or gets worse

  • Blister gets bigger

  • Blister doesn’t get better after several days

  • Your child gets blisters more often than you expect

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years old, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until they are at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell them which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your young child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child. Follow your provider’s specific instructions.

Fever readings for a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

Fever readings for a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4° (38°C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

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