What Are Diabetic Blisters?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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Diabetic blisters occur as one of the many possible complications from diabetes. There are various types of blisters that can occur with people who have diabetes. Common types are friction blisters, bullosis diabeticorum blisters, and blisters that appear following a fungal infection. In many cases, the patient may not even be aware that blisters have appeared, particularly if there is nerve damage.

One of the biggest issues that diabetes presents is that it has the potential to cause so many complications. While the main problem is managing blood glucose, the disease can wreak long-term havoc on the body. Diabetes can cause cardiovascular disease, brain issues, cancer, and nerve damage. The nerve damage is one problem that can lead to developing diabetic blisters.

Friction-caused diabetic blisters are commonly found on diabetics who suffer from nerve damage. Neuropathy reduces the threshold of pain and discomfort. This means that a diabetic with neuropathy may not be able to feel a burning sensation or pain when the skin rubs too fast or hard against something. Diabetics with neuropathy often notice blisters appearing regularly on the feet. In many cases, poor circulation and swelling cause shoes to rub on areas of the feet.

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Bullosis diabeticorum is a disease that coincides with diabetes. It causes diabetic blisters that are not accompanied by inflammation. These blisters spontaneously appear and can be found all over the body. Doctors closely monitor patients with this disease because secondary infections can occur easily. Secondary infections are often the result of a broken blister becoming exposed to a bacteria and the area becoming infected.

Candida albicans is a fungus that causes infection. It is one of the common fungi that affect people with diabetes. The diabetic blisters that stem from this infection are usually surrounded by an itchy rash. These blisters can be found in moist and warm folds of the skin, such as in between the toes and in armpits. The fungus gets into the skin and thrives from the warmth and moisture, eventually causing the blisters to appear.

Continuous, regular medical care is necessary for patients who develop diabetic blisters. Friction blisters and bullosis diabeticorum blisters do not generally require medications for treatment, unless a secondary infection develops. With fungal infections that cause blisters, however, an anti-fungal medication is necessary to get rid of the fungus. For people who suffer from nerve damage, proper diabetic foot care can prevent foot blisters.

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stoneMason
Post 6

@ankara-- Everyone gets blisters. As a diabetic, what you should pay attention to is whether you can feel it when the blisters form and how quickly or slowly the blisters heal.

A diabetic doesn't develop neuropathy overnight, it takes time. If you get blisters frequently without feeling a thing and if your blisters take too long to heal, then it's a sign that your nerves are damaged from high blood sugar levels.

If you don't have these issues, then don't worry. Don't pop the blisters, let them heal on their own and see a doctor if you think they might be infected.

bluedolphin
Post 5

I was diagnosed with diabetes three months ago. I noticed this morning that I have several blisters on my feet, probably from the long walks I've been taking recently. Should I be worried?

fBoyle
Post 4

@pleonasm-- Diabetes is not caused simply from a bad diet and sedentary lifestyle. It's genetic. Even kids can develop type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

I agree with you that diabetics have to be well informed about their condition though. As far as I know, diabetics who are over 65 are encouraged to go for regular doctor visits so that they can be checked for diabetic blisters and other symptoms of neuropathy. The important part is catching these blisters early on and treating the neuropathy before there are complications.

Fa5t3r
Post 3

One of the treatments I've heard of recently that works really well for this kind of blister is a honey bandage, particularly one with manuka honey.

The honey acts as a natural disinfectant and also stimulates the body to start healing. It can often be used successfully on blisters and sores that won't heal in any other way.

irontoenail
Post 2

@pleonasm - Honestly, I don't think it would make any difference. People think that diabetics (of the type 2 variety) bring it on themselves by eating badly and being overweight, but there seems to be quite a lot of evidence that those things happen (particularly the weight) because the person is developing diabetes and not the other way around.

The problem is that people like to blame the overweight for their so-called weakness and don't look any deeper than that.

And I suspect that even doctors will do it. Which means we end up with a lot more amputations than necessary, because instead of saying "maybe this person has a condition" they say "this person needs to have more willpower".

pleonasm
Post 1

This is one of the things that terrifies me about getting diabetes. I've heard of too many people who started out getting these kinds of blisters and ended up getting an amputation.

The blisters get infected and the infection can't be controlled and eventually there's nothing that can be done except to remove a foot or a leg.

I think this kind of information should be spread around a lot more, because people think that developing diabetes means that they will have to take an injection a couple of times a day and that's it. But the long term consequences of this disease are horrific and I think if that was better known people might make different lifestyle choices than they do today.

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