blister, puffy swelling of the outer skin (epidermis) caused by burn, friction, or irritants like poison ivy. A response of the body to protect deeper tissue, blisters generally contain serum, the liquid component of blood. The so-called blood blister, however, forms over ruptured capillaries and therefore contains whole blood.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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