Skin Complications

Skin Complications

Diabetes affects every part of the body, including the skin. One in three people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some point in their life. Here are some common skin conditions associated with diabetes and ways to keep your skin healthy.

  • Scleroderma diabeticorum – Usually found in people with type 2 diabetes, this presents itself as thickening skin on the back of neck and upper back and can be treated by controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Vitiligo – More common in people with type 1 diabetes, this is classified as patchy discoloration of skin. There is no known cure for vitiligo.
  • Acanthosis nigricans – This is the darkening and thickening of skin, especially in skin folds. The skin can become tan, brown, or sometimes raised, and typically affects people who are overweight and/or diabetic.
  • Diabetic dermopathy – Also called shin spots, this condition develops as a result of changes to the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the skin and appears as shiny round or oval lesions on the front part of lower legs. This skin condition affects 30% of people with diabetes.
  • Eruptive xanthomatosis – You might develop this skin condition if your triglycerides are high and you’re severely insulin resistant. This appears as first, yellow, waxy pea-like bumps on the skin and will disappear once the fat content in your blood is under control.
  • Fungal infections – Those with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing fungal infections. Avoid rubbing lotion between your toes as this can create a breeding ground for fungus.
  • Skin tags – Small, soft, flesh-colored growths that stick out from the skin, commonly found on the neck, upper chest, and underarms. These are generally harmless and do not need to be removed.

Tips for keeping skin healthy:

  1. Keep skin clean and dry.
  2. Use talcum powder in areas where skin touches skin.
  3. Avoid very hot baths and showers.
  4. Prevent dry skin with moisturizers and lotions.
  5. Treat cuts right away.
  6. Use a humidifier during cold, dry months
  7. Use mild shampoos and soaps.
  8. Take good care of your feet by wearing well-fitting, supportive shoes.
  9. See a dermatologist about any skin concerns you may have.

If you suspect that you have a diabetes-related skin disorder, contact your doctor. Most skin disorders are not dangerous and can be treated by lowing blood sugar levels or with topical creams and ointments.