Skin Problems in Diabetes: What are They? - Fitterfly
Diabetes Management Check Icon Medically Reviewed by, Dr. Vidya Walinjkar

Skin Problems in Diabetes: What are They?

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August 2022
skin problems in diabetes

It is no surprise that diabetes affects almost every organ and the entire body of a person. Can skin problems, then, be far behind? Of course not. Skin is the largest organ of our body and as much prone to the complications of diabetes as other organs. 

With diabetes, excessive amount of glucose circulates in the bloodstream. The underlying cause of type 2 diabetes is the inability of insulin to perform its function properly, also known as insulin resistance.

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Eventually, the body loses its capacity to create enough insulin. When this happen, all sorts of domino effects starts taking place within the body, resulting into a chaotic situation. Accompanying skin conditions are one such domino effect of diabetes.

Let us have a look.

1. Diabetic Dermopathy

This skin condition is caused by changes occurring in the blood vessels due to diabetes. Light brown, scaly looking patches in oval or circular shape appear on the skin, especially on the front part of the legs.

These are harmless patches as they don’t cause any kind of irritation or concern, nor do they need any treatment. 

2. Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD)

NLD is a similar conidtion to dermopathy but the patches here are fewer, larger and deeper. It is also caused by changes in the blood vessels.

What begin as small raised solid bumps that look like pimples, rapidly change into bigger, shiny looking patches with violet ring around them. The patches can be yellow, reddish, or brown in colour.

NLD follows a cycle of being inactive, active and then inactive again. Moreover, the patches can sometimes turn itchy and painful, and in some cases may turn into open sores. When that happens, it is definitely the time to go and see a doctor.

3. Acanthosis Nigricans

A dark patch or a velvety band appearing on your skin, specifically on your neck, armpits or groin area, is known as Acanthosis Nigricans.

It is an indicator of insulin resistance, which means you have too much of insulin in your body. This medical condition warns you to get tested for prediabetes.

The skin appears patchy, raised and much darker in shade than normal. These patches can also appear on hands, elbows and knees, and mostly affect people who are overweight.

4. Digital Sclerosis

This condition affects one third of the populace suffering from type 1 diabetes. Here, the skin on fingers and toes thickens and becomes extremely hard, so much so that at times it even impedes the motor movement of the digits.

The skin may also appear to be waxy and tight. Though not common, digital sclerosis can also affect elbows, knees and ankles.

5. Eruptive Xanthomatosis

People with diabetes may find themselves having yellow-hued skin eruptions that may feel firm to touch, almost pea-like in shape.

These eruptions generally occur on the backs of hands, feet, arms and legs, thighs, buttocks, elbow crooks and backs of knees. They generally itch.

This condition generally affect people with type 1 diabetes, specifically those who have high cholesterol levels and increased amount of fat in their blood stream.

Once the cholesterol and blood glucose levels are brought under control, this condition resolves itself.  

6. Bullosis Diabeticorum

In simple terms, this condition is also known as diabetic blisters. It is not so common as other diabetes related skin conditions. They generally affect people with diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic blisters can suddenly form on the skin, either in a cluster of small blisters or a stand-alone big blister. Unlike burn blisters, these blisters are not painful and recede on their own, without leaving any scar.

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