Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Too much glucose then stays in your blood, and not enough reaches your cells.

The good news is that you can take steps to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes and its secondary effects.

You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, type 2 diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight or obese.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly over the course of several years and can be so mild that you might not even notice them.
Many people have no symptoms!
Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart disease.
When there is too much glucose in the blood, it becomes physically thicker, similar to syrup.
Now, if your body is made to process blood, you can imagine how hard it would have to work to process something as thick as syrup.
This can cause some serious health problems in the short and long term.
Following a good diabetes care plan can help protect against many diabetes-related health problems. However, if not managed, diabetes can lead to Type 2 Diabetes
  • HEART AND BLOOD VESSELS: You’re up to five times more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke. You’re also at high risk of blocked blood vessels and chest pain.
  • KIDNEYS: As glucose builds up in the body, the kidneys remove some of it through the urine (the kidneys try to help the insulin do its job), causing you to go to the toilet more and more. All these urinations drain your body of fluids, causing dehydration and constant thirst. You can drink litres and litres of water and still be dehydrated. If your kidneys are damaged or you have kidney failure, you could need dialysis or a kidney replacement.
  • EYES: High blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in the backs of your eyes (retinopathy). If this isn’t treated, it can cause blindness.
  • NERVES: This can lead to trouble with digestion, the feeling in your arms and feet, and your sexual response.
  • SKIN: Your blood doesn’t circulate as well, so wounds heal slower and can become infected.
  • DENTAL problems and gum disease: Diabetes can also increase the amount of glucose in your saliva, leading to more bacterial growth and plaque build-up. If not properly managed, these issues can eventually lead to gum disease. Gum disease is an infection that affects the soft tissue in your mouth and can destroy the bones that hold your teeth in place. Bad-smelling breath, like strong nail polish, is caused by elevated ketone levels – even if you use mouthwash frequently.
  • FOOT PROBLEMS: Thick blood slows circulation, so the nervous system may not receive enough blood, leading to nerve damage and neuropathy, a constant tingling sensation in the limbs. Insufficient blood flow can "starve" the outer limbs, such as the legs. This can lead to complications from infections that don't heal anymore and culminating in limb amputations.
  • PREGNANCY: Women with diabetes are more likely to have a miscarriage a stillbirth, or a baby with a birth defect.
  • SLEEP: You might develop sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing stops and starts while you sleep.
  • HEARING: You’re more likely to have hearing problems, but it’s not clear why.
  • BRAIN: High blood sugar can damage your brain and might put you at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • DEPRESSION: People with the disease are twice as likely to get depressed as people who don’t have it.
The most recommended ways to manage diabetes are through nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Studies show that if you eat healthy, if you exercise more and if you make changes to your lifestyle, you can lower your blood sugar.
Some diabetics use their diagnosis as an opportunity to become healthier than they've ever been!

  • Managing your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and quitting smoking if you smoke, are important ways to manage your type 2!
  • Lifestyle changes that include planning healthy meals, limiting calories if you are overweight, and being physically active are also part of managing your diabetes!
  • So is taking any prescribed medicines!
  • Work with your health care team to create a diabetes care plan that works for you!
Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your SKIN. When diabetes affects the skin, it’s often a sign that your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. This could mean that:

  • You have undiagnosed diabetes, or pre-diabetes
  • Your treatment for diabetes needs to be adjusted
1. Yellow, reddish, or brown patches on your skin:

Necrobiosis Lipoidica

This skin condition often begins as small raised solid bumps that look like pimples. As it progresses, these bumps turn into patches of swollen and hard skin. The patches can be yellow, reddish, or brown.

You may also notice:

  • The surrounding skin has a shiny porcelain-like appearance
  • You can see blood vessels
  • The skin is itchy and painful
  • The skin disease goes through cycles where it is active, inactive, and then active again
1. Get tested for diabetes, if you have not been diagnosed.
2. Work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
3. See a dermatologist about your skin. Necorbiosis lipodica is harmless, but it can lead to complications.
2. Darker area of skin that feels like velvet:

Acanthosis Nigricans (AN)

A dark patch (or band) of velvety skin on the back of your neck, armpit, groin, or elsewhere could mean that you have too much insulin in your blood. This is often a sign of prediabetes. The medical name for this skin condition is acanthosis nigricans.

Often causing darker skin in the creases of the neck, AN may be the first sign that someone has diabetes.
  • Get tested for diabetes
3. Hard, thickening skin:

Digital sclerosis

When this develops on the fingers, toes, or both, the medical name for this condition is digital sclerosis.

On the hands, you’ll notice tight, waxy skin on the backs of your hands. The fingers can become stiff and difficult to move. If diabetes has been poorly controlled for years, it can feel like you have pebbles in your fingertips.

Hard, thick, and swollen-looking skin can spread, appearing on the forearms and upper arms. It can also develop on the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Sometimes, the thickening skin spreads to the face, shoulders, and chest.

In rare cases, the skin over the knees, ankles, or elbows also thickens, making it difficult to straighten your leg, point your foot, or bend your arm. Wherever it appears, the thickened skin often has the texture of an orange peel.

This skin problem usually develops in people who have complications due to diabetes or diabetes that is difficult to treat.
  • Tell your doctor about the thickening skin. Getting better control of your diabetes can bring relief.
  • You may also need physical therapy. When the thickening skin develops on a finger, toe, or other area with joints, physical therapy can help you keep your ability to bend and straighten the joint.
4. Blisters:

Bullosis Diabetricorum

It’s rare, but people with diabetes can see blisters suddenly appear on their skin. You may see a large blister, a group of blisters, or both. The blisters tend to form on the hands, feet, legs, or forearms and look like the blisters that appear after a serious burn. Unlike the blisters that develop after a burn, these blisters are not painful.

Large blisters can form on the skin of people who have diabetes.The medical name for this condition is bullosis diabetricorum. Sometimes, it’s called diabetic bullae.
  • Tell your doctor about the blisters. You’ll want to take steps to prevent an infection.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to better control your diabetes.
5. Skin infections:

People who have diabetes tend to get VERY OFTEN skin infections. If you have a skin infection, you’ll notice one or more of the following:

  • Hot, swollen skin that is painful.

A skin infection can occur on any area of your body, including between your toes, around one or more of your nails, and on your scalp.
  • Get immediate treatment for the infection.
  • Tell your doctor if you have frequent skin infections. You could have undiagnosed diabetes.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you may need better control of it.
6. Open sores and wounds:

Diabetic Ulcers

Having high blood sugar (glucose) for a long time can lead to poor circulation and nerve damage. You may have developed these if you’ve had uncontrolled (or poorly controlled) diabetes for a long time.

Poor circulation and nerve damage can make it hard for your body to heal wounds. This is especially true on the feet. These open wounds are called diabetic ulcers.

If you have diabetes, you should check your feet every day for sores and open wounds.
  • Get immediate medical care for an open sore or wound.
  • Work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
7. Shin spots:

Diabetic Dermopathy

This skin condition causes spots (and sometimes lines) that create a barely noticeable depression in the skin. It’s common in people who have diabetes. The medical name is diabetic dermopathy. It usually forms on the shins. In rare cases, you’ll see it on the arms, thighs, trunk, or other areas of the body.

Diabetic dermopathy: This 55-year-old man has had diabetes for many years.

The spots are often brown and cause no symptoms. For these reasons, many people mistake them for age spots. Unlike age spots, these spots and lines usually start to fade after 18 to 24 months. Diabetic dermopathy can also stay on the skin indefinitely.
  • Tell your doctor about these spots.
  • Work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
  • If you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, get tested.
8. Outbreak of small, reddish-yellow bumps:


When these bumps appear, they often look like pimples. Unlike pimples, they soon develop a yellowish color. You’ll usually find these bumps on the buttocks, thighs, crooks of the elbows, or backs of the knees. They can form anywhere though. These bumps appear suddenly and clear promptly when diabetes is well- controlled.

When these bumps appear, they often look like pimples. Unlike pimples, they soon develop a yellowish color. You’ll usually find these bumps on the buttocks, thighs, crooks of the elbows, or backs of the knees. They can form anywhere though. No matter where they form, they are usually tender and itchy. The medical name for this skin condition is eruptive xanthomatosis.
  • Tell your doctor about the bumps because this skin condition appears when you have uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to better control your diabetes.
9. Red or skin-colored raised bumps:

Granuloma annulare

Whether this skin condition is associated with diabetes is controversial. We know that most people who have granuloma annulare do not have diabetes. Several studies, however, have found this skin condition in patients who have diabetes. One such study found that people with diabetes were most likely to have granuloma annulare over large areas of skin and that the bumps came and went. Another study concluded that people who have granuloma annulare that comes and goes should be tested for diabetes.

This skin condition causes bumps and patches that may be skin-colored, red, pink, or bluish purple.
  • Let your doctor know if you have bumps like those shown here, especially if the bumps come and go.
10. Extremely, dry itchy skin:

Dry, itchy skin

If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have dry skin. High blood sugar (glucose) can cause this. If you have a skin infection or poor circulation, these could also contribute to dry, itchy skin.
  • Tell your doctor about your extremely dry skin. Gaining better control of diabetes can reduce dryness.
  • If you continue to have dry skin after you gain better control of your diabetes, a dermatologist can help.
11. Yellowish scaly patches on and around your eyelids:


These develop when you have high fat levels in your blood. It can also be a sign that your diabetes is poorly controlled. The medical name for this condition is xanthelasma.
  • Tell your doctor about the yellowish scaly patches around your eyes.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to better control your diabetes. Controlling diabetes can clear the scaly patches.
12. Skin tags:


Many people have skin tags—skin growths that hang from a stalk. While harmless, having numerous skin tags may be a sign that you have too much insulin in your blood or type 2 diabetes. These growths are most common on the eyelids, neck, armpit, and groin.
  • Ask your doctor if you should get tested for diabetes.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you need better control of it.
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