Diseases That Cause Blisters in Children

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Blisters, small fluid-filled circular shaped bumps, occur as part of many childhood diseases. Most are self-limited and have no long term affects, but can make children uncomfortable. Many occur as part of systemic illnesses that also cause fever and malaise. Preventing secondary infection is important in blistering illnesses, especially if the blisters itch.

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox, caused by the varicella zoster virus, is now preventable by vaccination. Chicken pox normally starts with fever, tiredness and the appearance of small blisters that occur in crops. Chicken pox, an airborne virus, occurs between 14 and 21 days after contact with an infected person, and is contagious from two days prior to the appearance of blisters to five days after the first drop appears, the British Columbia Ministry of Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors. The blisters break and crust over. The rash itches; calamine lotion, baking soda baths and antihistamines help reduce itching. Acetaminophen or children’s ibuprofen can control fever. Aspirin should not be given, due to the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease, a common childhood illness, causes blisters in the mouth and sometimes on other parts of the body, particularly the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Lesions may also appear on the buttocks and genitalia. The rash is not itchy and may cause mouth pain. Several different enteroviruses can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is spread by direct contact and has an incubation period of around a week. Treatment consists of pain relievers to reduce mouth discomfort and fluids to maintain adequate hydration.


Herpangina, which usually affects young children, causes mouth blisters ringed by red circles on the tongue, throat, lips, tonsils or other parts of the mouth, pediatrician and columnist Dr. Alan Greene reports on his website. High fever, loss of appetite and fatigue accompany blister formation. Headaches, runny nose and drooling may also occur. Symptoms last three to six days and start four to six days after exposure. Reducing pain and maintaining hydration are the most important treatments for herpangina. Various enteroviruses cause herpangina.


Impetigo, a skin infection, often occurs on the face. Blisters that break and turn into yellow crusted sores surrounded by a red base characterize impetigo, which is caused by streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria and spreads by direct contact or via hand contact. Impetigo requires antibiotic treatment and remains contagious for around 24 hours after the start of treatment, according to the British Columbia Ministry of Health.