Causes of Diabetic Blisters

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 01, 2012

Causes of Diabetic Blisters

According to, 33 per cent of diabetics experience skin complications at some time in their lives. Diabetic skin complications, including blisters, are a result of nerve damage, blood vessel damage or dehydration from chronic high blood glucose.

Also known as bullosis diabeticorum or diabetic bullae, the blisters usually appear on the legs and arms. Unlike the commonly occurring skin blisters, diabetic blisters do not leave any mark or scar when they disappear.


[Read: 5 Steps of Body Care for Diabetes]


There is no known cause of diabetic blisters. The following are the possible reasons why they occur:

  • Neuropathy and nephropathy are often linked with diabetic blisters. Medical intervention for these disorders, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), decrease the body’s ability to sustain an injury, which may lead to diabetic blisters.


[Read: Side-effects of Diabetes Medications]


  • According to the panel of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, neuropathy and  nerve damage make diabetics lose sensation in the hands and feet (numbness). It is when their foot rubs against the surface that blisters appear. Friction diabetic blisters aren’t really a health risk, but poor blood circulation may raise the likelihood of infections.


[Read: Why do Diabetics have Dry Skin?]


  • Diabetics with heart problems are at a high risk of developing diabetic blisters. Heart problems,  such as angina and myocardial ischemia, may lead to swelling of the hands and arms, which may further cause blisters.


  • According to the American Diabetes Association, candida albicans (a fungal infection), is one of the causes of diabetic blisters. The fungal infection occurs mostly in diabetics and may lead to itching, red rashes surrounded by blisters and scales in moist folds of skin such as areas under breasts, space between fingers and toes, foreskin, armpits and groin .

Unlike other blisters, diabetic blisters are large in size, irregular-shaped and contain clear sterile liquid. Besides appearing on the legs and feet, these may occur  on the fingers or on backs of the hands. Sometimes, the diabetic blisters may appear like a burn with a burning sensation or a twinge of discomfort.

[Read: Management of Type 2 Diabetes]

Measures to Treat and Prevent Diabetic Blisters

In most cases, diabetic blisters heal by themselves i.e. without any medical intervention within two to four weeks. If they burst open, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to help dry the blister. It is because there is a chance of the blister getting infected when left untreated that a doctor prescribes antibiotics and medicines.

Health experts recommend keeping blood sugar levels within normal range to prevent diabetic blisters and other skin problems. It is essential to fuel the cells in the bloodstream by massaging different parts of the body, especially the feet and hands regularly to keep skin complications at bay.

Read more articles on Diabetes


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