What Are Common Causes of Leg Blisters?

Eugene P.

Leg blisters can be caused by many factors. They can result from physical damage to the skin from the sun, burns or repeated friction resulting from rubbing against something. Chemical imbalances or diseases in the body, such as diabetes or poor blood circulation, can cause blisters to appear on the legs. Environmental factors such as bacteria or fungal infections also can lead to the development of leg blisters. Depending on the cause of the blisters, the treatments can range from simply waiting for them to heal to draining and bandaging them.

Many runners get blood blisters on their toes and feet.
Many runners get blood blisters on their toes and feet.

A blister is a collection of fluid — sometimes lymph fluid — that develops between the top two layers of the skin, called the epidermis, and the dermis. It can be formed by the body as a defensive measure to prevent repeated rubbing from further damaging the skin. The fluid inside can sometimes be blood, in which case it's called a blood blister; this is a result of damaged blood vessels, usually caused by physical trauma. One of the complications that can occur with blisters is infection, in which case professional medical attention needs to be sought.

Bacterial or fungal infections can lead to the development of leg blisters.
Bacterial or fungal infections can lead to the development of leg blisters.

One common cause of leg blisters is a condition known as eczema. The exact causes of eczema are unknown, but it begins as a rash that can eventually become inflamed and cause blisters. Eczema is not a condition that is dangerous, but it can be very persistent and affect the appearance of the person who has it.

Bandaging one's legs may help treat leg blisters.
Bandaging one's legs may help treat leg blisters.

A much broader cause for leg blisters is known as dermatitis. This is not a single disease but an umbrella term referring to various conditions that cause lesions or irregularities on the surface of the skin. Many of these conditions can develop into blisters. The causes for many types of dermatitis are not fully understood but might be attributable to an overactive immune system response.

Poor blood circulation from a condition such as diabetes is another common cause for leg blisters. The blisters may form because the skin in the area does not receive the correct amount of nutrients and support because an insufficient amount of blood is directed to the skin. Certain medications can help to reduce the amount and duration of such blisters, but they could remain as long as circulation is an issue.

Physical damage to the skin can cause the formation of leg blisters, as well. This can be caused by sun damage, as in severe sunburn, or as a result of contact with a hot surface. Friction also is known to cause blisters, such as when boots or shoes rub against the skin until a protective blister appears. These blisters tend to dissipate fairly quickly.

The skin condition eczema is a common cause of leg blisters.
The skin condition eczema is a common cause of leg blisters.

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Discussion Comments


I was in a car accident and suffered a shattered and dislocated knee cap which requires surgery when the swelling goes down. I was put in a leg brace and sent home. The next day I had a huge blood blister on my shin with many smaller clear blisters. Is this serious or expected?


I had awful leg blisters a few weeks ago from mosquito bites. My skin doesn't usually react to mosquito bites this way. But these bites became red, swollen, infected and inflamed within a few day. They filled with pus and eventually drained. It was not a pretty sight. If I hadn't used antibiotic cream, it would have probably taken longer for them to heal.

I don't know what type of mosquito that was or if it was infected or something. But this was the first time that I experienced something like this.


@literally45-- No, all diabetics do not experience leg blisters. Leg blisters occur when diabetes is not under control. If blood sugar levels are elevated for very long periods of time, veins are damaged. This causes circulation problems, particularly in the legs and feet. Blood flow is poor and blisters and ulcers can occur.

You can prevent them by controlling your diabetes with medication, diet and exercise. Check your blood sugar levels regularly and make sure that they are in the normal range. Those who have had diabetes for thirty years or more need to be extra careful and check their legs and feet often.


Do all diabetics experience leg blisters? Is there any way to prevent them?


I am unfamiliar with treatment procedures for leg blisters due to diabetes, however those resulting from sunburn or friction can benefit from witch hazel astringent. Sunburn blisters will also heal quickly when pure aloe vera gel is applied. Aloe is an ideal treatment for all types of burns, as it soothes the skin and quickens the healing process.

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