Diabetes Skin Problems: Diabetes can affect the entire body, including your skin. Find out how to spot, prevent, and treat diabetes skin complications.
Are You Suffering From a Diabetes-Related Skin Problem?
Do you have diabetes? Diabetes is the fastest growing long-term (chronic) disease, affecting millions of people across the globe. In Nigeria, more than 5 million people suffer with diabetes. About 75 percent of them have type 2 diabetes, linked to obesity or being overweight. Researchers believe that the diabetes epidemic will escalate, and predict that in 2050, one in three Nigerians will have diabetes.
About a third of people with diabetes will develop skin problems such as skin sores or a leg rash. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), some skin problems can be warning signs of diabetes in those who are undiagnosed. The good news is that most skin problems with diabetes can be prevented or treated easily if they’re caught early.
Keeping proper control of your blood sugar (glucose) can prevent diabetes skin problems and many other diabetes symptoms from happening in the first place.
Many diabetes skin problems can happen to healthy people, but people with diabetes have a much higher risk. Diabetes skin problems include:
- Bacterial infections
- Diabetes rash
- Diabetic blisters
- Diabetic dermopathy
- Eruptive xanthomatosis
- Fungal infections
- Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum
- Skin itching
Controlling your blood glucose is the first step in preventing and treating diabetes skin problems. When diabetes affects your skin, causing skin sores or diabetes rash, it is a sign your blood sugar levels are too high.
If you notice any skin problems, it is time to talk to your doctor. Get tested for diabetes if you have yet to be diagnosed. Work with your doctor and to learn how to control your diabetes with diet, exercise, and medications, if needed.
Additionally, see a dermatologist about any diabetes skin problems. Some diabetes skin problems don’t look too serious but could lead to future complications if left untreated.
For the most part, control of diabetes can help with related skin issues, I’m always adamant that my diabetic patients take aggressive care of their skin and health in general. For the skin, moisturization, checking feet and legs daily for any blisters, sores, and skin breaks (especially between the toes), and nail care is extremely important. Nail and foot fungus can lead to skin cracks and breaks, allowing bacteria to enter and cause infection.”
Bacterial Skin Infections Need Immediate Treatment
Although anyone can get bacterial skin infections, people with diabetes are more prone to them. Typical bacterial skin problems that tend to trouble patients include eyelid sties, boils, nail infections, and carbuncles — deep infections of the skin and the tissue underneath. Usually, the area around the infection will be hot, red, painful, and swollen. Treatment with antibiotic creams or pills will usually clear up these skin problems.
Fungal Infections Are Common With Diabetes
People with diabetes are susceptible to fungal infections, especially one called Candida albicans. This yeast-like fungus creates a red, itchy rash, frequently surrounded by small blisters and scales, that is usually found in warm, moist areas like armpits or between the toes. Other fungal infections common to diabetics includeringworm,jock itch, athlete’s foot, andvaginal yeast infections. Talk to your doctor about the best medication to kill fungal skin problems.
Poor Blood Flow Results in Itchy Skin
Itchy skin can have many causes. In people with diabetes, a yeast infection, dry skin, or poor circulation can be the root cause. When poor blood flow is the culprit, the lower legs may be the itchiest part of the body. What can you do to stop your skin from crawling? Consider bathing less often, and use mild soap when you do. Slather on some lotion to moisturize dry skin, but avoid applying it between your toes.
Vitiligo Causes Skin to Lose Color
Vitiligo is a skin problem in which the skin cells that make melanin (brown pigmentation) are destroyed, leading to irregular, blotchy patches that often occur on the hands, face, or chest. Although the cause of vitiligo is unknown, experts believe it is an autoimmune condition liketype 1 diabetes, and researchpublished in July 2016 inBioMed Research International described the link between the two conditions. There’s no cure, but light therapy and steroids are used to manage vitiligo. If you have the condition, it’s important to wear asunscreen of at least 30 SPF, since depigmented skin has no natural sun protection.
Diabetes Can Cause Neuropathy-Related Skin Problems
Diabetes can cause nerve damage called neuropathy, a common diabetes complication. Sometimes the damage causes a loss of sensation in the feet. If you step on something and injure your foot or develop a blister, you may not be able to feel it. An open skin sore called a foot ulcer can develop and could get infected. Take a look at your feet every day to make sure they are not injured in any way
Good Blood Sugar Control Treats Digital Sclerosis
About a third of people with type 1 diabetes have digital sclerosis — thick, tight, waxy skin that develops on the backs of the hands. The finger joints stiffen and become difficult to move. Sometimes this skin problem occurs on the toes and forehead as well. Rarely, knees, ankles, or elbows may stiffen. Again, good blood glucose control is the only treatment. Moisturizer may help soften the skin.
Disseminated Granuloma Annulare Causes Skin Itching
This skin problem causes raised, bumpy, or ring-shaped spots that are skin colored, red, or red-brown. Disseminated granuloma annulare most often occurs on the fingers and ears. Some people report mild itching. Typically, medical treatment is not needed because the rash usually disappears on its own without leaving scars. But ask your doctor if a topical steroid, like hydrocortisone, could improve your skin problems.
Acanthosis Nigricans Turns Skin Dark and Velvety
Acanthosis nigricans causes skin problems in body folds and turns the skin creases dark, thick, and velvety. This diabetes skin problem usually develops in people who are very overweight. There’s no cure, but losing weight may improve the skin’s appearance. If you have the skin problem and haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetic Blisters May Heal on Their Own
It’s rare, but sometimes people with diabetes erupt in blisters (bullosis diabeticorum). The blisters occur on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet, and sometimes on the legs or forearms. These skin sores resemble burn blisters. Having diabetic neuropathy puts you at higher risk of developing these blisters. Here’s the good news: They are usually painless and heal on their own in a few weeks. Keeping blood glucose under control is the only treatment for this diabetes skin problem.
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