What you need to know about diabetes and your skin

The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is filled with nerves and blood vessels that allow us to feel touch, temperature, pain and pressure. Diabetes can affect the nerves and blood vessels in your body, including those in your skin. Changes in your skin can be a sign that something is going on below the surface.

When diabetes affects your skin, it’s often a sign that your blood sugar levels are getting too high over time. Some skin changes may appear even before you have 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 tested for diabetes or discuss an adjustment to your treatment. They can help you prevent serious complications with your skin and other parts of your body.

Keep reading to learn about 9 skin conditions that can occur with diabetes and what you can do to treat or prevent them.

1. Acanthosis nigricans (AN)

This skin condition causes a dark patch or band of velvety skin that can appear in body folds such as the neck, armpits, or groin. Sometimes the patches can also appear on your hands, elbows or knees.

What are the causes: AN is a sign of insulin resistance and can be a sign of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It is common in obese people.

What to do: Some creams can help improve the appearance of spots, but the most effective treatment is to address the root cause, such as obesity or insulin resistance. Lifestyle changes, such as physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, can help reverse insulin resistance.

2. Diabetic dermopathy

This condition is also known as shin spotting and it is harmless. The spots look like round red or brown spots or lines on the skin and are common in people with diabetes. They appear on the front of your legs (your shins) and are often mistaken for age spots. The spots do not hurt, itch or break open.

What are the causes: Diabetes can cause changes in small blood vessels that reduce blood supply to the skin.

What to do: This skin condition is harmless and does not require treatment. If you have any concerns about spots on the shin, talk to your doctor.

3. Lipid necrobiosis

This condition causes yellow, reddish or brown patches on your skin. It usually starts out as small, raised bumps that look like pimples. As the condition worsens, the bumps turn into patches of hard, swollen skin. This skin condition is rare, but if it develops, it can be itchy and painful.

What are the causes: The cause of necrobiosis lipoidica isn’t completely clear, but women are more likely to get it than men. It usually develops when changes in fat and collagen (a fiber-like protein in your body) occur below the skin’s surface.

What to do: There is no cure for the disease, so treatment focuses on managing signs and symptoms. In the early stages, topical steroid creams can be used to keep it from getting worse. You will want to speak with your doctor so they can find the right treatment plan for you.

4. Bullosis diabeticorum (diabetic blisters)

This condition looks like burn blisters. They can develop on your legs and feet, and sometimes on your arms and hands. They may look scary, but they are painless and usually heal on their own.

What are the causes: The cause of diabetic blisters is unknown. They can appear without any known injury to the skin. You are more likely to get diabetic blisters if your blood sugar levels are high over time.

What to do: Most blisters heal on their own without leaving a scar. Daily inspection of your feet and skin is the best way to detect the first signs of blisters. The best way to prevent them from developing or getting worse is to bring your blood sugar back to normal levels.

5. Eruptive Xanthomatosis

This condition causes small reddish-yellow bumps on the backs of the hands, feet, arms, legs, and buttocks. They can be tender and itchy.

What are the causes: This condition is rare. It is caused by high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the blood).

What to do: The best treatment is to control the fat levels in the blood. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor about having your cholesterol levels checked so you can take steps to prevent high cholesterol.

6. Digital sclerosis

This condition begins with tight, thick, waxy skin on your fingers and can make your finger joints stiff and hard to move. If blood sugar levels remain high, digital sclerosis can make your skin hard, thick, and swollen and can spread throughout your body.

What are the causes: This condition is more common in people with type 1 diabetes who have high blood sugar.

What to do: The only treatment for digital sclerosis is to bring blood sugar levels back into the normal range. Physical therapy can help improve range of motion in affected joints.

7. Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections cause inflammation, warmth, swelling, redness, and pain in the tissues (cells that make up organs and other parts of the body). Common bacterial infections include those of the eyelids, hair follicles, and nails.

What are the causes: 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 (staphylococcus).

What to do: Bacterial infections can usually be treated with antibiotics. Keeping your blood sugar in the normal range can help you avoid infections. Eating a healthy diet, being active, and taking your medications as directed can help you manage your blood sugar.

8. Fungal infections

Fungal infections create itchy rashes surrounded by tiny red blisters and scales. They usually develop in warm, moist folds of skin. Common fungal infections include jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and vaginal infections.

What are the causes: 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.

What to do: Talk to your doctor about prescription or over-the-counter medications that can help treat fungal infections. Keeping blood sugar within the normal range by checking your blood sugar often, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly is the best way to prevent fungal infections.

9. Dry, Itchy Skin

This skin condition is common, even in people who do not have diabetes. But dry, itchy skin can be the result of poor circulation, which is more likely when you have diabetes.

What are the causes: Too much sugar in the blood causes the body to extract fluid from its cells so that it can produce enough urine to eliminate the excess sugar. It can make your skin dry.

What to do: You will want to monitor your blood sugar and keep it within your target range as much as possible. It also helps if you limit your time in the shower, use mild soaps, and use lotion after showering. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve circulation and has many other health benefits.

Be kind to your skin

The skin is a good indicator of health. If you notice any unusual changes in your skin, it is important to see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent serious complications from skin problems caused by diabetes.

↯↯↯Read more on the subject on TDPel Media ↯↯↯