Can Weeping Legs Be a Symptom of Diabetes?

Weeping legs, a term used to describe fluid that leaks or oozes from the leg, can be a complex condition to manage. While your legs may weep fluid for various reasons, it could be a symptom, or complication, of diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition that affects the body's ability to process and control blood sugar. One common symptom of diabetes is slow healing cuts or sores, which could be a source of leaking fluid.

In this article, you'll learn what it means to have weeping legs, how it might be associated with diabetes, and how you can manage both problems.

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

A wound weeping fluid.

jax10289 / Getty Images

What Are Weeping Legs?

Weeping legs is a term used to describe fluid leaking from your legs, often from swelling or a wound. While swelling and wounds are the primary cause behind this weeping, several underlying conditions, like diabetes, can cause those wounds or sores and lead to this problem.

Fluid may leak through seemingly intact skin or from new or chronic wounds. The wetness associated with this problem can make controlling the leak and managing wounds particularly challenging.

Additionally, while fluid that leaks through the skin on your legs may appear pink or bloody, weeping legs usually only entails the leaking of clear, or serous, fluid.

Are Weeping Legs a Symptom of Diabetes?

Weeping legs can appear with many conditions, including diabetes. Diabetes doesn't usually directly cause weeping; instead, it is a symptom of several diabetes complications.

Diabetes can impact the overall health of your skin and your ability to heal from wounds. Decreased circulation and slow healing in people with diabetes contribute to chronic wounds, such as diabetic ulcers. With these injuries, even a minor cut that goes undetected due to nerve damage can become a severe wound over time. Diabetes also makes treatment and healing more difficult.

Below are additional symptoms and complications of diabetes that can lead to weeping legs.

Fluid Shifts and Kidney Damage

Diabetes is a disease that significantly impacts your body's balance of fluids and nutrients such as sugar, salt, and potassium. Most of the time, high blood sugar caused by diabetes leads to decreased fluid in the body, but at later stages, it can also cause swelling and water retention.

Your kidneys turn waste and extra fluid from your body into urine and remove these excesses from the body. Over time, high blood sugar levels from uncontrolled diabetes can damage the delicate tissues of the kidneys, reducing their ability to remove minerals, fluid, and other substances from your body.

If you develop kidney disease or other fluid balance disorders from diabetes, you can experience severe swelling. This swelling may lead to leaking fluids through the skin on your legs or blisters formed from the swelling.

Heart Disease

Diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease or failure, a condition that can contribute to fluid buildup in your body.

With heart failure, in particular, a weakened heart can lower your body's ability to properly move blood—and therefore fluids—throughout your body. When this happens, fluid can build up, especially in the legs. People with heart failure may notice deep pitting in their legs when the skin is pressed (also known as pitting edema), signaling a collection of fluid in the tissue below the skin. Open wounds, or simply too much force from within your legs, can cause this fluid to leak out, giving your legs a weeping appearance.

Nerve Damage, Vein Diseases, and Poor Wound Healing

Nerve damage (neuropathy) and vascular disease are common complications of diabetes. Nerve damage increases your risk of developing injuries from stepping on things you don't feel, and vascular disease increases developing wounds from ulcers.

While these types of injuries can happen to anyone, people with diabetes struggle with delayed or slow wound healing. Chronic wounds and slow healing are major risk factors for developing severe wounds that can weep or leak.

Treatments and Management of Weeping Legs

The best way to prevent leg weeping if you have diabetes is to keep your blood sugar under control to decrease other complications. This includes maintaining a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet, taking your medications as prescribed, and staying physically active.

If you experience diabetes complications or develop them throughout the course of your disease, speak with your healthcare provider about how to manage them and avoid severe infection or injury.

When it comes to weeping legs, in particular, several specialty dressings can help control weeping and promote healing. Most of these dressings focus on keeping the bed of the wound moist and clear of bacteria.

Several home remedies can help heal, slow weeping, and protect healthy skin from constant moisture. These include:

  • Barrier creams help protect your healthy skin from being damaged by the weeping fluid.
  • Wound dressings cover wounds and absorb weeping fluid.
  • Compression and elevation can help reduce the swelling that often increases weeping.
  • Wearing shoes around the house to avoid injuries that could lead to chronic wounds or diabetic ulcers.
  • Controlling your blood sugar levels helps prevent infection and other complications.
  • Exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight and promote good circulation.
  • Staying hydrated helps flush your body of toxins and increases urination.

It's important to follow the treatment and medication regimen prescribed to you by your healthcare provider to manage your diabetes and control infection,

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

If you have diabetes and deal with chronic, weeping wounds, you should regularly see your healthcare provider to check on their healing progress and head off any complications, like an infection.

A new fever could signify that your wound has caused a more systemic infection. In some cases, you might also notice foul-smelling or colored drainage from the wound or the formation of dark tissue at the wound site. If this happens, it's important to see your healthcare provider immediately, as you may need additional treatment for the infection.


Chronic wounds and ulcers are a common complication of uncontrolled diabetes. People with diabetes are also more likely than people without the condition to develop other conditions like heart disease or kidney failure.

Any one of these problems—or a combination of them all—could cause you to develop weeping legs alongside your diabetes. Be sure to talk to your doctor about how to manage this complication, and what to do if you have diabetes and want to prevent issues like chronic wounds.

A Word From Verywell

Diabetes is a fairly common condition that affects more than 34 million Americans. Many complications can arise with diabetes, but controlling your blood sugar can help avoid many of them.

If you develop diabetes-related problems, such as kidney, heart, or vascular disease, or neuropathy, you are at an increased risk of developing chronic wounds or diabetic ulcers. These injuries may lead to weeping legs.

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you can work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your condition with diet, exercise, and possibly medications to avoid other dangerous complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does diabetes cause weeping legs?

    Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many complications, including kidney disease, neuropathy, and chronic wounds. Any—or even just one of these—can increase your risk of developing swelling and open wounds in your legs that could cause weeping, or serous, fluids.

  • What are some home remedies for weeping legs?

    The best way to treat weeping legs at home is to keep wounds clean and as dry as possible. Compression and elevation can also help reduce swelling in order to decrease weeping.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Diabetes Association. Good to know: diabetes symptoms and testsClinical Diabetes. 2020;38(1):108-108. doi: 10.2337/cd20-pe01

  2. University of Central Florida Health. Diabetes and leg swelling.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing diabetes complications.

  4. Mein SA, Schwarzstein RM, Richards JB. Sugar, sodium, and water: a recipe for disaster. Annals ATS. 2019;17(8). doi:10.1513/AnnalsATS.202004-360CC.

  5. Ferguson NN. Edema blisters. In: Rosenbach M, Wanat KA, Micheletti RG, Taylor LA, eds. Inpatient Dermatology. Springer International Publishing; 2018:399-401.

  6. MedlinePlus. Diabetes: foot ulcers.

  7. Gianino E, Miller C, Gilmore J. Smart wound dressings for diabetic chronic woundsBioengineering. 2018;5(3):51. doi:10.3390/bioengineering5030051.

  8. Anderson I. 'Leaky legs’: strategies for the treatment and management of lower-limb lymphorrhoea. Nursing Times. 2015;113(1):50-53.

  9. Wounds International. The causes and treatment of wet weeping legs.

By Rachael Zimlich, BSN, RN
Rachael is a freelance healthcare writer and critical care nurse based near Cleveland, Ohio.