If you have diabetes, you need to be aware of potentially serious skin problems associated with the disease, and you must consult a doctor before they get out of control. In most cases, with skin problems in diabetes mellitus, subject to early diagnosis and timely treatment, you can cope.
Some skin problems associated with diabetes
- Diabetic scleroderma. This condition is rare in people with type 2 diabetes and causes thickening of the skin on the back of the neck and upper back. The treatment is to strictly control the normal level of sugar in your blood. Lotions and moisturizers can be used to soften the skin.
- Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin disease that is more common in type 1 diabetes and affects the color of the skin. Vitiligo destroys special cells that produce pigment (a substance that causes skin color), which leads to blemishes in the skin. It often affects the chest and abdomen, but can also be found on the face around the mouth, nostrils and eyes. Currently, the treatment of vitiligo is the local use of steroids (hormones) and micropigmentation (tattooing). If you have vitiligo, you should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to prevent sunburn on discolored skin.
Skin problems caused by diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance
- Acantokeratoderma. This is a skin problem that leads to darkening and thickening of the skin in certain areas, especially in the area of skin folds. The skin becomes tanned and brown, and sometimes elevations appear on it, described as corduroy. Most often, a condition that usually looks like a small wart occurs on the side or back of the neck, armpits, under the breasts and in the groin. Sometimes the tips of the fingers have a very unusual look. Acantokeratoderma usually precedes diabetes mellitus and is considered its marker. There are other conditions that can also cause acanthosis of the skin, for example, acromegaly and Itsenko-Cushing’s syndrome. It is believed that this skin lesion is a skin manifestation of insulin resistance.
Skin problems associated with reduced blood supply to the skin
- Skin problems associated with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a serious health condition caused by narrowing of the blood vessels due to thickening and hardening of the vessel walls due to the deposition of plaques on them. Although atherosclerosis is most commonly associated with blood vessels located in or near the heart, it can damage vessels throughout the body, including those that supply blood to the skin. When these vessels constrict, changes in the skin begin to occur due to lack of oxygen. Such changes can be hair loss, thinning and shine of the skin, especially on the legs, thickening and discoloration of toenails, as well as cold skin. Because the blood carries white cells that help fight infection, the shins and feet affected by atherosclerosis heal more slowly than usual when damage occurs.
- Diabetic lipodystrophy. It is believed that this condition is caused by changes in collagen and the fatty layer of subcutaneous tissue. The skin located above becomes thin and red. Most of the damage is found on the lower legs and can be ulcerated if injured. The affected area has clear boundaries with normal skin. Sometimes lipodystrophy can itch and be painful. If the ulcer does not open, there is no need for treatment. If you have an ulcer, visit your doctor so that he can prescribe the necessary treatment.
- Diabetic dermopathy. This skin condition develops as a result of changes in the blood vessels that supply blood to the skin. Dermopathy is a rounded or oval lesion with thinned skin on the front surfaces of the legs. These spots do not hurt, although sometimes they can cause itching or a burning sensation. Usually, dermathopathy does not require medical treatment.
- Sclerodactyly. This is a condition in which the skin of your toes and hands becomes thick, waxy and tight. There may also be stiffness in the interphalangeal joints. Medical treatment is to keep blood sugar levels under control. Lotions and moisturizers can be used to soften the skin.
- Erythrocytosis. This skin disease can occur in the absence of good blood sugar control and a significant increase in triglyceride levels. Severe insulin resistance makes it difficult for the body to remove fat from the blood. With a significant increase in the level of these fats in people increases the risk of pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas. The exacerbated xanthomatosis occurs as a solid yellow waxy pea-like plaque on the surface of the skin. Such plaques, itchy and surrounded by a red halo, can usually be found on the face and buttocks. They can also be seen on the back of the arms and legs, especially on the folds of the limbs. Treatment for xanthomatosis is to control the level of fat in your blood. In this case, the elements of the rash dissolve within a few weeks. You can also use drugs that control the level of different types of fat in the blood (lipid-lowering drugs).
Rashes, plaques and blisters
- Rash and plaque. Allergic reactions to food, insect bites and medicines can cause skin rashes, impressions, or plaques. For people with diabetes, it is especially important to monitor skin changes, such as rashes or plaques, in areas where insulin is given.
- Diabetic pemphigus (diabetic bulls). In rare cases, people with diabetes develop skin problems that look like burn blisters. These blisters can occur on the fingers and toes, toes and feet, shins or forearms. Diabetic blisters are usually painless and go away on their own. Such skin problems often occur in people with severe diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Treating this condition is controlling your blood sugar level.
- Disseminated annular granuloma. This skin lesion causes a sharply defined annular or arcuate skin area. These elements of the rash often occur on the fingers and ears, but can occur on the chest and abdomen. The rash may be red, red-brown or skin color. Drug treatment is usually not required, but topical steroids such as hydrocortisone can sometimes help.
Diabetes mellitus and bacterial and fungal infections
- Bacterial infections. There are different types of bacterial infections that can affect the skin of people with diabetes. Most often, they develop skin infection with staphylococcus and the same lesion is most serious in people with poor control of diabetes. These bacteria can cause boils – inflamed nodules around the hair follicle, occurring in places where follicle irritation is possible. Other types of infectious lesions can be barley, which is an infection of the eyelid glands, and bacterial diseases of the nails. Most bacterial infections require medical treatment with antibiotics in tablet form and / or in the form of a cream.
- Fungal infections. Yeast-like fungi, called “Candida albicans”, are responsible for many fungal infections that cause skin problems in people with diabetes. Women have a tendency to develop this fungal infection in the vagina. Another common place of infection can be the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis), which is felt as small cuts in the corners of the mouth. The fungus can also develop between the fingers or toes and in the nails (onychomycosis). This fungus causes an itchy bright red rash, often surrounded by small blisters and scales. These infections often occur in the warm moist folds of the skin. The three most common fungal infections are: athlete’s groin (red itchy area on the genitals and inner thighs), athlete’s foot (affects the skin between the toes), and ringworm (ringed scaly patches or blisters that itch and appear on the feet, groin , on the chest, abdomen, scalp or nails). Antifungals are commonly used to treat these infections. Potentially deadly fungal infection mucus disease can also occur in people with diabetes. The infection process usually begins in the nasal cavity and can spread to the eyes and brain.
Skin problems with multiple causes
- Itching. Itching of the skin can be caused by various causes, such as yeast infections, dry skin and poor blood circulation. If itching is caused by poor blood flow, the lower legs and feet may be affected. Using a lotion can help soften and moisturize the skin, as well as prevent itching caused by dry skin.
Is it possible to prevent the development of skin problems in diabetes?
The most important factor in preventing the development of these problems is good control of your diabetes. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding nutrition, exercise, and medicine. Keep your blood sugar level within the limits recommended by your doctor. Careful care of your skin will also help reduce the risk of developing skin problems.