Skin Complications and Diabetes

CLP13001952Diabetes can affect every part of the body, including the skin.As many as one out of three people who are living with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. In fact, sometimes such problems are the first sign that a person has diabetes. Some of these problems are skin conditions anyone can have, but people with diabetes get more easily. These include bacterial infections, fungal infections and itching. Other skin problems happen mostly, or only, to people with diabetes. These include diabetic dermopathy, necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, diabetic blisters and eruptive xanthomatosis.

In addition to November being American Diabetes Month, it is also National Healthy Skin Month, so it’s the perfect time to talk about the topic of skin complications and diabetes. Luckily, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated if caught early. Good skin care is essential and there are several things you can do to head off skin problems. First and foremost, keeping your diabetes well managed is crucial to avoiding complications. People with high glucose levels tend to have dry skin and less ability to fend off harmful bacteria. Both conditions increase the risk of infection.

In addition, here are some tips on how to properly care for your skin:

  • Keep skin clean and dry. Use talcum powder in areas where skin touches skin, such as armpits and groin.
  • Avoid very hot baths and showers. If your skin is dry, don’t use bubble baths. Moisturizing soaps may help. Afterward, use a standard skin lotion, but don’t put lotions between toes. The extra moisture there can encourage fungus to grow.
  • Prevent dry skin. Scratching dry or itchy skin can open it up and allow infection to set in. Moisturize your skin to prevent chapping, especially in cold or windy weather.
  • Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Do not use Mercurochrome antiseptic, alcohol or iodine to clean skin because they are too harsh. Only use an antibiotic cream or ointment if your doctor says it’s okay. Cover minor cuts with sterile gauze. See a doctor right away if you get a major cut, burn, or infection.
  • During cold, dry months, keep your home more humid. Bathe less during this weather, if possible.
  • Use mild shampoos. Do not use feminine hygiene sprays.
  • See a dermatologist about skin problems if you are not able to solve them yourself.
  • Take good care of your feet. Check them every day for sores and cuts. Wear broad, flat shoes that fit well. Check your shoes for foreign objects before putting them on.

To learn more about skin complications and care, visit our website. You may also be interested in our book, Uncomplicated Guide to Diabetes Complications, 3rd Edition.

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18 Responses to Skin Complications and Diabetes

  1. Brian Alsup says:

    I will have had type 1 diabetes 33 years come this Dec. 25th. I have noticed that I get small patches of dry skin on my legs. Even tho they itch very badly I try to avoid scratching them. I usually get a very small amount of lotion and spread it on. I do not rub it in but, rather let my skin absorb it naturally.

  2. Marian says:

    I’m a woman of 53 years old and having diabetes type 1 for almost 44 years.
    My skin problems started 1 year ago with a small spot on my leg. Now, 1 year later it has spread out over both my legs and the doctors can’t say what it is. Through biopsy they have found PLC eczema and the treatment I get is UVB light therapy.

    Is this skin problerm a result of the long term diabetes? Or not?

  3. James says:

    The small patches of itchy skin are, so says my dermatologist, a form of eczema. The patches show up most often below the waist. My doctor recommended using a mild cleanser such as Cetaphil in the shower (baths tend to dry your skin), pat dry, and immediately apply a moisturizer such as Cetaphil cream. I also have a cortico-steroid cream to apply locally should I develop a particularly irritated spot. This regimen works for me.

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    You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  5. Harvina says:

    Living with diabetes body is a challenge because you need take care of your body includes skin, foot, eyes, BP & others. Immune resistance power not much working so keep protect your skin all the time.

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  9. Boyd says:

    I have blisters on both legs that sometimes drain! I have diabetes 2 and my Physician told me to keep my legs covered with gauze soaked in saline. This cleared my open wounds but the blisters won’t go away, how do I heal these bothersome blisters?

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  17. Babasaheb N Ratunawar says:

    I am a Type 2 diabetic patient. I am a male,My age is 66 residing in India. My HBA1C is 6.8%. I am taking tab ZORYL-M1before breakfast since 20 years. My question is, I am facing itching at lower back during night. The skin nearby lower back ,knee,thigh and calf becoming black,thicken and darken. I am very alert about my diabetic conditions & symptoms . My diet is low carbohydrate i. e green vegetables and fruits. I know that the first and foremost thing is to control over diabetes. Right now my diabetes is at normal range. & I am regularly doing essential exercises and YOGA’s.

    So pls consider my all history and suggest solution over itching

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