Diabetes Skin Problems You Should Know


When people find out they have got diabetes, they usually worry about health complications related to the cardiac system, kidney ailments and conditions like cholesterol. However, not many are aware of how onset of diabetes can lead to a wide range of dermatological problems. The reality is specific skin problems can indicate arrival of diabetes in your body. If these skin problems are detected and the root cause is diagnosed properly, diabetes management becomes easier for the affected persons.

Diabetes skin problems

Understanding the link between diabetes and skin problems

Before you learn about the skin ailments or conditions that are caused by diabetes, it is necessary that you know why these skin problems occur. While every diabetic person may not be afflicted with these skin woes, at least a third of all diabetes victims cope with some of these conditions.

In diabetes, the blood sugar levels exceed the normal threshold and gradually the situation worsens, if it is left untreated. As a matter of fact, if the blood sugar level remains too high for long, it causes several changes in the human body. Such people tend to urinate more and then they end up with dry skin and dehydration. It can also lead to skin inflammation in some cases.

Gradually, the blood vessels get affected and proper circulation can’t be obtained. This hampers the functioning of collagen layer-the building block of skin. With collagen building and regeneration affected, wound healing gets slower and skin becomes brittle and flaky.

The major diabetes induced skin conditions

The majority of diabetes triggered skin complications tend to be harmless but that does not mean you should overlook these! You should know what these conditions are like and how they can be treated. If left untreated, some of these can be painful and complications may occur too.

  • Necrobiosis Lipoidica – It is a skin condition which is characterized by brown or yellow patches on skin surface. The small bumps on skin may look like pimples. The infected skin part can cause itching. The skin around these bumps may appear shiny.
  • Dry and itchy skin– A lot of diabetes victims have to deal with dry and itchy skin for long.
  • Skin tags– These are basically skin growths that hang from skin surface. It looks ugly though there is no pain involved. It may indicate excessive insulin in blood. It impacts body parts like the armpits and neck.
  • Digital Sclerosis– In this condition, the affected skin gets thickened and hard. It affects the skin in the fingers and toes mostly. When it occurs, the victims find it hard to move the toes and fingers. However, this condition may also impact the upper arms and forearms.
  • Acanthosis Nigricans– This is mostly seen in the individuals with higher levels of insulin. The skin parts like neck, groin become dark velvety. It is often a precursor to diabetes.
  • Regular skin infections– This can often be hard to diagnose as skin infections caused by diabetes often overlap with regular skin infections. These are like bacterial infections affecting the toes and fingers. The skin becomes swollen and painful. The victims may also end up with dry scaly skin with itchy feeling.
  • Diabetic Sores and Wounds– Diabetic ulcers occur when there is inadequate blood circulation in the feet. This is often seen in people who fail to manage diabetes well. The wounds in the feet may take a long time to heal.
  • Granuloma Annulare– In this condition, the victims cope with Red-hued raised bumps on the skin. These bumps may disappear and then reappear in the affected persons.
  • Eruptive Xanthomatosis– In this condition, the victims get reddish-yellow bumps on skin parts like elbows, buttocks, thighs. Initially, the skin bumps look like pimples but later they become yellowish in color.
  • Xanthelasma-Some of the diabetes victims develop Xanthelasma. In this condition, Yellowish scaly patches are seen around the eyelids. Once again, this is seen more in the people with ill managed diabetes.
  • Diabetic Dermopathy– In this condition, the victims get shin spots on the body. These spots have brown hue and they fade away after 1.5 to 2 years. Sometimes, such spots may appear on thigh and arms too.
  • Bullosis Diabeticorum (blisters)– Diabetic blisters are among common skin conditions triggered by this ailment. The blisters can appear on body parts like hands, feet and forearms. Usually, these blisters do not cause pain.

How to deal with skin complications caused by diabetes

You have to understand the fact that diabetes induced skin ailments and conditions are more than just dermatological conditions. So, you can’t keep these in check just by using external treatment. The focus should be on controlling the blood glucose level, as recommended by the doctor. This, coupled with proper skin care will help in keeping these ailments and skin woes under control.

  • Keeping the skin clean and dry- While the doctors will recommend you medications to keep blood sugar level within limits, taking care of skin is essential to reduce diabetes related skin problems and their severity. If you get dry and itchy skin, for example, nourishing the skin with body oil and cream will be needed. You also need to use mild soap or cleansers that do not aggravate skin dryness. Use soft towel to pat dry skin.
  • Using water at room temperature- Diabetes related skin conditions like itchy skin or lesions can aggravate if you regularly bathe in warm water. Unless it is absolutely necessary, bathe in water kept at room temperature. Evading long baths or swimming for a long time in the pool is also advisable in this regard.
  • Using mild or herbal skin products- When you have diabetes caused skin conditions, ensure you do not use chemical laden skincare products. Stick to the herbal or mild body lotions, creams and oils.
  • Wearing cotton clothes- It is better that you wear skin friendly cotton clothes when you have diabetes induced skin ailments. Such garments let the skin breathe easily.
  • Making changes to the diet- The best way to deal with diabetes triggered dermatological ailments is treating them internally. This can be done by eating skin friendly foods that help stabilize blood sugar level. Including plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits with low amounts of natural sugar will be of help.
  • Working out- The diabetes victims are often advised to indulge in light to moderate workouts. Burning calories help in keeping weight within desired limit. Obesity is detrimental for blood sugar stabilization. Obese diabetes patients find it harder to keep blood sugar in check than their leaner peers.
  • Wearing soft and comfortable shoes- If you have blisters or skin lesions at the feet, wearing suitable shoes or slippers will be necessary. You can find shoes made for people with foot lesions and blisters specifically.

Summing it all up

Keeping diabetes induced dermatological problems in check is not that hard, after all! You have to know the symptoms well. If you can stabilize the blood sugar level and adhere to the apt skincare protocols, most of these skin woes will reduce or vanish. In some rare cases, seeking services of a dermatologist may be necessary. Sometimes, you need to apply external medications like creams, gels and ointments along with tweaking your diet.

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