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What You Need to Know About Diabetic Blisters

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

People diagnosed with diabetes need to watch out for skin complications, one of which is diabetic blisters—also called diabetic bullae or bullosis diabeticorum. 

A person with diabetes administering his daily foot care regimen.

Diabetic blisters are similar in appearance to burn blisters. They usually occur on the forearms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, or toes and show up in people whose blood sugar levels are out of control. The blisters are usually painless and heal on their own. However, the appearance of diabetic blisters can, understandably, be a stressful experience for anyone, so we break down what you need to know about diabetic blisters in this article.  

How to identify diabetic blisters  

Diabetic blisters can be as large as six inches, and they contain a clear, sterile fluid. Discovering a single lesion is also rare; diabetic blisters typically appear in clusters or bilateral. The skin around the blisters usually isn’t swollen or red. If the blisters are itchy, see your doctor right away.

Treatment for diabetic blisters  

Diabetic blisters are known to heal within two or five weeks without intervention. However, with the risk and possibility of ulceration presented by diabetes, it’s best to see a dermatologist who can rule out severe skin conditions. 

Avoid puncturing any blisters to prevent further injury; cover the blisters with bandages to protect them from external elements. If the blisters are large, your doctor may want to drain the fluid. Doing so will keep your skin intact, which will act as a cover for the wound. 

While waiting for the natural healing process, you can help treat blisters by using an antibiotic ointment or cream. However, if you experience severe itching, see your doctor right away; he/she may prescribe a steroidal cream to alleviate the itch. 

Another surefire way to speed up healing is by monitoring your blood sugar and making sure it’s stable. 

How to prevent diabetic blisters  

People with diabetes are prone to developing neuropathy—nerve damage that usually affects the legs and feet. This is the main reason most diabetics don’t notice lesions and blisters on their legs or feet. If you have been diagnosed with neuropathy, be vigilant about your skin condition. 

Make sure to implement a daily foot care regimen. Check your feet carefully every day—use a magnifying lens if you have to. Always wear shoes and socks to protect your feet from injury or any complications. And, as much as possible, avoid uncomfortable footwear, especially tight shoes. If you need to break in new footwear, break them in slowly to prevent injury.

Wear gloves when using kitchen or gardening equipment. Also, apply sunscreen daily and limit sun exposure. 

When to see your doctor  

Because diabetic blisters are usually painless, it’s easy to shrug it off and opt against visiting your doctor. However, since blisters can sometimes lead to secondary infection, it’s best to reach out to a physician before it becomes an emergency. When you notice swelling, redness, pain, warmth emanating from the lesions, and fever that develops along with the symptoms mentioned above, contact your doctor as soon as possible. 

Have you dealt with diabetic blisters before? What did you do to treat/manage them? 
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  • Hi my mom’s is a diabetic and recently he bs shot up and she had these blisters on her toe doc gave her a antibiotic cream and the next few days bs was down to normal levels and blister was healing nicely then this morning we noticed the blistered skin blackning is this by any chance normal

    Jerald on

  • I had a diabetic skin blister on my partial amputee foot – my wound specialist advise me to us a skin barrier on the blister to harden it, so it would not burst. I skin barrier is a product nurses use when you are using a wound vac, and the nurse has to apply creme on your wound area of your skin to keep it moist, but he adhesive doesn’t or can’t stick to the skin, so they use a skin barrier product (it’s like an alcohol wipe) and rub the skin barrier wipe on your blister to harden it (to keep it from bursting)

    Robert W on

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