Blood blisters are similar to normal regular blisters, a raised area of bubbly skin which, instead of being filled with clear tissue fluid or exudate contains blood, hence their red colouring.
To pop or not to pop, that is the question
With conventional blisters filled with straw-coloured liquid, the general advice is to leave well alone. They disperse naturally over the course of a few days. If the blister is in a tricky location like the heel of your foot, it may be rubbed raw anyway by your shoe or socks which can cause subsequent infection. You can pop blisters that you know are going to carry on being traumatised or are just hideously painful.
A sterile needle gently inserted into the side of the bump will release the contents. Leaving the skin undisturbed forms a protective flat cap over the original lesion like a soft scab. But is this recommended with a blood blister?
How to manage a blood blister?
The general medical advice is identical for a transparent blister. Blood blisters dry up eventually, on average a couple of weeks. As the blister ages, the blood within darkens in colour. New skin will slowly grow beneath with the blood above vaporising. If it sits proud of your skin, then you may want to protect it to avoid it knocks or accidental piercing. If the blister is constantly agonising or in an awkward location, ask a doctor to drain it. There is a much higher risk of infection lancing a blood blister than the conventional alternative.
What about a blood blister inside the cheek?
Anything in your mouth can feel sore and uncomfortable and the size of a golf ball even if it isn’t.
A blood blister inside the cheek can make chewing hazardous and is vulnerable to partial puncture and subsequent invasion by the normal bacteria contained within the mouth.
What causes blood blisters in the mouth or cheek?
These can occur from trauma as simple as over zealous activity with the toothbrush or an accidental bite, easy to do if choking. They can also result from a scald with food or beverages that are too hot. Interestingly, blood blisters can also arise as a corollary of stress or from an allergic reaction usually to something ingested but not necessarily.
What is angina bullosa hemorrhagica?
This worrying sounding condition is not actually connected to the heart complaint, angina, but is a simpler affliction which creates multiple blood blisters orally. Classified as acute and benign, there is no identifiable or significant underlying health imperative which causes these to form.
Home care is usually the only therapy recommended so chlorhexidine gluconate and benzydamine hydrochloride mouth wash to avoid infection and perhaps topical steroids if the blisters are persistent. Clinicians may undertake further investigation to try and figure out the cause but this is a rare infirmity and normally only seen in the elderly.
Teenage braces can pinch or scrape the skin inside the cheek leading to blistering. At the other end of the scale, ill-fitting dentures can consistently chafe and rub creating over a period a similar outcome.
Can a blood blister be an indicator of disease?
Shingles can manifest with small red spots or blisters. This illness is caused by the same virus that delivers chickenpox. The rash is very painful and the sufferer can be quite unwell. Commonly, the rash appears on the body but on rare occasions, the red blisters will colonise in the patient’s mouth. There are other potential grave conditions which may give rise to oral blood blisters such as oral cancer, renal failure and diabetes but the likelihood is that you will have had other more obvious symptoms first to point to encourage a diagnosis.
The importance of regular dental check-ups
Just as opticians will check your sight, they will also examine the complex structures of the eye for signs of hidden disease such as glaucoma. Dentists will routinely inspect your teeth but include as part of their standard examination, scrutiny of the soft tissues of the mouth to spot signs of other ailments which may be developing.
Serious conditions like cancer first appear as lesions in the mouth and regular trips to the dentist should identify these at an early and hopefully treatable stage.
Managing an oral blood blister
Tempting though it may be to pop or chew it into submission, a blood blister in the cheek, merits more carefully considered treatment. If you try removing it with a sharp instrument, you will incur a scar, delay the overall healing time and potentially leave an open wound at peril of infection. Here is how to manage the blister:
- Use a sterile and chilled compress to gently encourage the swelling to reduce, ideally both prior to and post eating and last thing at night after teeth cleaning
- Swill an antibacterial mouth wash after food and before bed. Water with either salt or baking soda, just a couple of teaspoons, is a good alternative home remedy. Salt water is very restorative aiding the healing process whereas perversely, salted foods will just irritate
- Avoid foods which are acidic or have sharp edges, cut food into smaller pieces
- If a toothbrush is too uncomfortable on that side of your mouth then use a child’s brush or just brush gently with your finger and the toothpaste
Any concerns, delayed healing or infection, recurrent outbreaks or stubborn offenders should be looked at by either a doctor or a dentist.
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