Vesicular Rash

Vesicles are small, fluid-filled sacs which can appear on the skin. When these appear in conjunction with a rash, the condition is referred to as a vesicular rash.


Vesicular rash diagnosis occurs when vesicles are present with a rash. These fluid-filled sacs can be clear in appearance, yellow, white or mixed with blood. Vesicles are sometimes referred to as bullae or blisters, although there are subtle but significant differences between these three conditions. In size terms, vesicles typically measure five to ten millimetres in diameter. If these sacs become any larger, they are then reclassified as blisters. If they become smaller, they are known as bullae.

It is understandable that many patients may feel worried or aggrieved at the signs of a vesicular rash, and the best way to rule out any serious illness or infection is to consult a healthcare professional who will be able to offer a diagnosis.

Vesicular rash symptoms:

Vesicles are usually easy to recognize. They develop at the surface of the skin, causing it to swell with fluid. The skin positioned around the vesicle contains the fluid within. Vesicles are easily ruptured, and this causes fluid to be released onto the skin, at which point it may turn crusty or yellow.

Conditions which can produce similar symptoms to vesicles include:

  • Burns
  • Boils
  • Staph infection
  • Frostbite
  • Skin nodules
  • Neurofibromas (tumors which develop on the nerves)
  • Infected hair follicles

If a rash appears in the same area as several vesicles, this is known as a vesicular rash. Heat rashes commonly cause vesicular rash, typically within the folds of the skin or places where clothing has caused friction. Contact dermatitis (coming into contact with irritants) can also cause a vesicular rash.

Vesicular rashes are known to spread quickly if they are caused by bacterial infection. In these instances, the patient is advised to keep their rash clean to prevent it spreading to other body parts.

Patients who develop unexplained vesicles on their skin are advised to make an appointment with a doctor. During a visit, a doctor will typically ask about any symptoms the patient might have been experiencing recently, as well as enquiring about any concurrent medical conditions which may be related to the appearance of the vesicles.

A doctor will also examine the skin and may be able to diagnose the cause based on this simple information. If a doctor is unsure about the cause of the vesicles, they might recommend further tests, or may even take a fluid sample or a skin tissue biopsy from the vesicle to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. This analysis will help them to confirm their diagnosis.

Patients should request to see a doctor as soon as possible if they are:

  • Experiencing signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, streaks caused by the vesicular rash, and/or warmth at the site of the rash.
  • Experiencing the occurrence of vesicles or blisters on a regular basis, and don’t understand why.
  • Experiencing a band or cluster of painful vesicles down one side of the face or body, which could be an indicator of shingles.
  • Experiencing vesicles or blisters on the legs, feet or hands while concurrently suffering from diabetes.

Vesicular rash causes:

Vesicles develop as a result of fluid becoming trapped beneath the epidermis (the top layer of the skin). They can be caused by several different health conditions. Many of these conditions are minor and don’t necessarily require medical attention. Others can be more serious and can be signs of a complex medical issue which requires ongoing treatment.

Minor causes of vesicular rash include:

  • Allergic reactions which cause irritations of the skin
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • From encountering plants like poison oak or poison ivy
  • Cold sores

Patients are advised to seek medical advice if they believe their vesicles are a result of:

  • An autoimmune disorder, like bullous pemphigold
  • Shingles
  • Chickenpox
  • Impetigo, a skin condition caused by infection with staph or strep bacteria
  • Herpes

Some patients who experience a rapid onset spread of vesicular rash in conjunction with symptoms like pain, dizziness or shortness of breath could be experiencing an allergic reaction to a medication they have been prescribed to treat another condition. In these instances, the patient is advised to seek immediate medical attention.

Vesicular rash treatments:

Treatments for vesicular rash will vary dependent on the diagnosis. It is important for patients to engage with their doctors to discuss treatment options and how to reduce symptoms.

In some instances, an over the counter remedy could be enough to treat vesicles which have occurred due to an allergic reaction, dermatitis, cold sores or poison ivy. Most of these remedies come in the form of a topical ointment which soothes the skin when applied. In the case of allergies, antihistamines may also be helpful in reducing symptoms.

Vesicles are sometimes accompanied by other more serious symptoms, such as infection or inflammation. In these instances, a doctor might also prescribe medicines to treat the underlying condition.

For example, some autoimmune disorders are treated with corticosteroids which reduce inflammation, as well as antibiotics which fight infection. Most bacterial infections are best treated with oral antibiotics, which will not aggravate the vesicles.

Eczema-related vesicles are typically treated with prescribed topical ointments like glucocorticoids and retinoids.

Vesicles caused by burns should be treated with prescription burn creams. If the skin has been burned, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure to reduce any chance of infection.

There are a several homemade remedies which can be effective in treating vesicles. To tend to open or torn vesicles, patients are advised to wash the area gently with soap and water and use an over the counter antibiotic ointment to prevent any infection. The patient may also choose to cover the affected area with a clean bandage to protect it.

Natural remedies for vesicles which haven’t been drained or torn include:

  • Apple cider vinegar – an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compound which helps to dry the vesicle out and reduces swelling.
  • Aloe vera – a soothing agent with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Tea tree oil – an antibacterial, astringent oil.

Patients typically make a full recovery after experiencing vesicles caused by allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. In more serious cases, genetics or long-term viruses could be causing the vesicular rash, which means that vesicles could reoccur throughout the patient’s life. Patients suffering from chronic conditions are more likely to re-experience vesicles.

Vesicular rash prevention:

Patients who are aware that they have allergies can prevent vesicular rashes from occurring by preventing their allergy triggers. They are advised to avoid sharing straws, cups or lip products which could be contaminated with allergens.

Patients who experience vesicles due to friction are advised to avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing, or any clothing which rubs uncomfortably on the skin. Patients who partake in sporting activities should be equipped with the proper equipment like moisture-wicking clothing and socks with additional padding.

To avoid the recurrence of vesicles, patients should ensure that their skin is kept clean by using antibacterial soap or shower gel. Maintaining good hygiene and avoiding irritants will reduce the likelihood of a vesicular rash returning.