Changes in your skin can be a sign that something is going on beneath the surface AND are one of the most common signs of diabetes
The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It’s packed with nerves and blood vessels that allow us to sense touch, temperature, pain, and pressure. Diabetes can affect the nerves and blood vessels in your body, including those in your skin. When diabetes affects your skin, it’s often a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high over time. Some skin changes can appear even before you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Others could be a sign that your diabetes treatment needs to be adjusted. Either way, you’ll want to make an appointment with a doctor to be screened for diabetes or to talk about adjusting your treatment. They can help you prevent serious complications with your skin and other parts of your body.
- Bacterial infections cause tissue (cells that make up organs and other body parts) to become inflamed, hot, swollen, red, and painful. Common bacterial infections include those on the eyelids, hair follicles, and fingernails. Anyone can get a bacterial infection, but people with diabetes tend to get more than people without diabetes. Bacteria thrive when there is too much glucose (sugar) in the body. A common type of bacteria responsible for bacterial infections in people with diabetes is staphylococcus (staph). Bacterial infections usually can be treated with antibiotics. Keeping your blood sugar levels within the normal range can help you avoid infections. Healthy eating, getting physical activity, and taking your medicine as instructed can help you manage your blood sugar.
- Fungal infections create itchy rashes surrounded by tiny red blisters and scales. They usually develop in warm, moist folds of the skin. Common fungal infections include jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and vaginal infections. Like bacterial infections, anyone can get a fungal infection, but they are common in people with diabetes. Fungal infections are more likely to occur when blood sugar levels are high. Keeping blood sugar levels within the normal range by checking your blood sugar often, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise is the best way to prevent fungal infections
Dry, itchy skin is common, even for people who don’t have diabetes. But dry, itchy skin can be a result of poor circulation, which is more likely when you have diabetes. Too much sugar in the blood causes the body to pull fluid from its cells so that it can produce enough urine to remove the excess sugar. This can make your skin dry.
What to do: You’ll want to monitor your blood sugar levels and keep them in your target range as much as possible. It also helps if you limit your time in the shower, use mild soaps from DIABETOLINE, and use DIABETOLINE CREAM after showering, on clean, dry skin. Exercice is one of the best ways to improve circulation—and has many other health benefits.
- Dark patch or band of velvety skin that can appear in body creases such as your neck, armpits, or groyne. Sometimes the patches can also appear on your hands, elbows, or knees. Can be a sign of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It is common in people who have obesity and it's a sign of insulin resistance. It is called Acanthosis nigricans
- Diabetes can cause changes in small blood vessels that reduce blood supply to the skin and spots on the skin that look like red or brown round patches or lines in the skin and are common in people with diabetes. They appear on the front of your legs (your shins) and are often confused with age spots.The spots don’t hurt, itch, or open up. This is called: Diabetic dermopathy
- Yellow, reddish, or brown patches on your skin. It usually begins as small, raised bumps that look like pimples. As it gets worse, the bumps turn into patches of swollen, hard skin. This skin condition is rare, but if it does develop it can be itchy and painful. Women are more likely to have it than men. It usually develops when changes in fat and collagen (a fibre-like protein in your body) happen beneath the skin’s surface. There is no cure for the condition, so treatment is focused on managing signs and symptoms. In the early stages, topical steroid creams can be used to keep it from getting worse. You’ll want to talk with your doctor so they can find the right treatment plan for you. This condition is called: Necrobiosis lipoidica
- Diabetic blisters or Bullosis diabeticorum. They can develop on your lower legs and feet, and sometimes on your arms and hands. They can look scary, but they are painless and usually heal on their own. The cause of diabetic blisters is unknown. They can appear with no known injury to the skin. You’re more likely to get diabetic blisters if your blood sugars levels are high over time. Most blisters heal on their own without leaving a scar. Daily inspection of your feet and skin is the best way to find early signs of blisters. The best way to prevent them from developing or getting worse is to bring your blood sugar down to normal levels.
- Eruptive xanthomatosis is a condition that causes small, reddish-yellow bumps on the back of your hands, feet, arms, legs, and buttocks: Eruptive xanthomatosis. They can be tender and itchy. This condition is rare. It’s caused by having high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in the blood). The best treatment is to bring blood fat levels under control. Your doctor may also want to prescribe medicine to help lower your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about having your cholesterol checked so that you can take steps to prevent high cholesterol.
- Digital sclerosis looks like tight, thick, waxy skin on your fingers and can cause your finger joints to become stiff and hard to move. If blood sugar levels remain high, digital sclerosis can cause your skin to become hard, thick, and swollen and can spread throughout your body. This condition is more common in people with type 1 diabetes who have high blood sugar levels.The only treatment for digital sclerosis is to bring blood sugar levels down into the normal range. Physical therapy may help improve the range of motion of affected joints
Skin is a good indicator of health. If you notice any unusual changes in your skin, it’s important to see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing serious complications from skin problems caused by diabetes.