Diabetes affects all of your organs to one degree or another, including your epidermis. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. In fact, the American Diabetes Association notes that skin problems are often a first symptom of diabetes and up to one in three people with diabetes will deal with a skin problem related to diabetes at some point.
You can avoid many of these conditions if you manage your diabetes and blood sugar levels; however, if prevention fails, knowing how to treat them can prevent further complications.
Anyone can get itchy skin but it's especially common in people with diabetes. It may be caused by dry skin, by an infection or by poor circulation.
What to Do: Avoid very hot baths or showers, bathe less frequently and use a hypoallergenic skin
lotion within three minutes after bathing to restore and retain moisture. If the cause is an infection, treat it according to doctor's instructions.
Like itchy skin, bacterial and fungal infections are more common and more serious for people with diabetes. Common skin infections include bacterial infections such as: sties, carbuncles and boils; as well as fungal infections such as: ringworm, athlete's foot and yeast infections.
What to Do: Because skin infections can have serious complications when you have diabetes, always consult your doctor when you suspect one.
Bullosis diabeticorum, or diabetic blisters, are a rare condition where blister-like sores appear on the hands, feet, toes, fingers, forearms or legs. They're more common in people who have diabetic neuropathy.
What to Do: While the blisters are sometimes large, they're usually painless and clear up on their own in about three weeks. The only treatment is to get your blood sugar under control.
Changes in the small blood vessels beneath your skin can result in light brown, scaly patches, often on the front of your legs. They do not itch, hurt or open up.
What to Do: Diabetic dermopathy is harmless and doesn't need any type of treatment.
Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum
NLD is a rare skin condition that most often affects adult women with diabetes. Like diabetic dermopathy, it's caused by changes in the blood vessels and is characterized by darkened, raised spots. The spots may start as red, raised areas that change over time to look like shiny scars with purplish borders. They may itch and be painful, and sometimes break open.
What to Do: Consult your doctor if the sores crack or break open.Disseminated Granuloma
This skin rash is characterized by well-defined raised, hard bumps that may be brown, red or have no unusual color. They most frequently occur on areas away from the trunk of your body, such as on the fingers or ears, but may occur on the trunk. They may be itchy, and the bumps can be up to two inches in diameter.
What to Do: See your doctor for medications that can help clear the rash up.
Most common in people who are very overweight, acanthosis nigricans is characterized by darkened, thickened, velvety skin, most often in the skin folds. While it has no other symptoms or effects other than skin changes, it is often an early sign of type 2 diabetes.
What to Do: In obese people, acanthosis nigricans often improves or disappears with weight loss.
If you have one or more of these skin conditions, talk to your doctor about them. They're often a sign that your body is not doing a good job of controlling blood sugar levels.
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