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A vesicle is a small fluid-filled blister.
See also: Bulla
A vesicle is small -- it may be as tiny as the top of a pin or up to 5 or 10 millimeters wide.
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.
Many diseases and conditions can cause vesicles. Some common examples include:
- Allergic reactions to drugs
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- Autoimmune disorders such as bullous pemphigoid or pemphigus
- Blistering skin diseases including porphyria cutanea tarda and dermatitis herpetiformis
- Chicken pox
- Contact dermatitis (may be caused by poison ivy)
- Herpes simplex (cold sores, genital herpes)
- Herpes zoster (shingles)
As a general rule, your doctor should 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 doctor if you have any unexplained blisters on your skin.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your doctor will look at your skin. Some vesicules can be diagnosed simply by how they look.
In many cases, however, 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.
Armstrong CA. Examination of the skin and approach to diagnosing skin diseases. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 462.
Rapini RP. Clinical and pathologic differential diagnosis. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP, eds. Dermatology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:vol 1.
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.