Skin issues are often one of the first signs of diabetes, and there are many connections between skin health and diabetes. Loveland dermatology doctors are experienced in working with diabetes patients and can provide personalized treatments and recommendations. Caregivers and people with diabetes can benefit from knowing how diabetes affects your skin health. In general, diabetes has a large impact on skin health. Skin conditions can be one of the first signs that a person has high blood sugar and either has diabetes or is pre-diabetic. For people with diagnosed diabetes, skin conditions can be a sign that they need to re-evaluate their treatment with a doctor’s care.
Here are five common diabetes-related skin symptoms. Although these symptoms aren’t exclusive to diabetics, they tend to be much more common in people with diabetes and can signal other blood sugar issues.
Diabetes patients or people who are pre-diabetic often experience itching skin, which can be tied to dry skin, poor blood flow, or a yeast infection. Everyone experiences itching on occasion, but diabetes patients often experience painful itching that won’t go away. Patients with diabetes may notice their skin is itchier when their blood sugar is higher. A sensitive skin lotion can help calm itching that comes from dry skin.
Yellow or Brown Patches
The scientific term for yellow, red, or brown patches that appear on the skin is Necrobiosis Lipoidica. It typically starts with small bumps that resemble pimples but can quickly turn into patches of swollen and hard skin. In most cases, the colored patches are painful and itchy and can cause the surrounding skin to be shiny and pale. This condition tends to go through cycles of activity and inactivity on the skin, which means patches can be incredibly itchy for a while before calming down. Yellow or brown patches are often a sign that your blood sugar is too high. A doctor can provide treatment options.
Dark, Thick Skin
This condition, known as acanthosis nigricans, is common in diabetics and often starts with areas of tan or brown skin appearing on the armpits, neck, or groin. It can also appear on the fingers and hands and be waxy, which can make the fingers stiff. These areas are sometimes slightly raised, and the skin tends to get darker and thicker over time. Once the symptoms start to appear on one part of the skin, they usually spread to other areas on the body.
There are a number of bacterial and fungal infections that can impact people with diabetes. Perhaps the most common is a staphylococcus skin infection, which often appears as an inflamed bump or boil near the hair follicles. Skin infections can happen anywhere on the body. Other infections include sties, or small bumps found in the glands along the eyelid, and nail infections. Bacterial infections can typically be treated with a doctor-prescribed medicine. Fungal infections, such as ringworm or athlete’s foot, are also common in diabetics and are typically treated with an oral or topical antifungal medication.
Scientists don’t know the exact cause of vitiligo, which causes areas of the skin to lose pigment and become lighter, but it is very common in people with diabetes. Vitiligo destroys the cells that give skin color, which creates patches of lighter skin. Vitiligo can impact any race or gender, but it tends to be more common in older people. Vitiligo doesn’t cause other medical issues, but some people want to fix it for cosmetic reasons. Loveland dermatologists can provide personalized treatment options, such as light treatments or steroid creams.
These five ways diabetes impacts your skin are just a few of the most common symptoms. There is a strong relationship between diabetes and skin health, which means people with diabetes or who are pre-diabetic need to monitor their skin closely for any changes. Paying attention and visiting the doctor can help keep many of these skin conditions under control.