If you have diabetes, a condition where your pancreas produces little or no insulin, you have a greater chance of developing skin disorders. Estimates suggest that one third of people living with diabetes will develop some problems with their skin at some point. Sometimes diabetics develop infections and skin problems that the average person could have and in other cases, the skin conditions appear only in people with diabetes.
Diabetes-related skin conditions include the following:
When tan or brown raised areas appear in the folds or creases of the skin, it is called acanthosis nigricans. Sometimes an initial indicator of diabetes, acanthosis nigricans can occur at any age and generally impacts people who are obese. Acanthosis nigricans is caused by high insulin and the only treatment is to reduce these levels.
A rare skin condition, diabetic blisters can form on the backs of fingers, hands, toes or feet. Diabetic blisters often occur when someone suffers from diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage caused by diabetes.
Caused by diabetes-related changes in the small blood vessels, diabetic dermopathy usually appears as light brown, scaly patches, similar to age spots. These patches are harmless and require no treatment. People who have had diabetes for a long time often develop diabetic dermopathy.
With digital sclerosis, patients experience thick, tight and waxy skin, typically on the toes, fingers and hands which can make digits stiff. Making sure blood sugar levels fall in the acceptable range can relieve this condition.
Disseminated Granuloma Annulare
Similar in appearance to a bulls-eye, this reddish-brown rash forms on the ears, fingers or toes. Disseminated granuloma annulare causes no problems, but your physician can prescribe steroids to get rid of the rash.
Characterized by a pea-size, yellowish enlargement in the skin, eruptive xanthomatosis appears with a red halo around the nodule and frequently itches. High triglycerides and high blood glucose levels can bring on eruptive xanthomatosis. Keeping these numbers at a normal level can help eruptive xanthomatosis subside.
Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum
Caused by changes in collagen and fat underneath the skin, necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum is similar to diabetic dermopathy but the spots are fewer, larger and deeper. With necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, the skin also has a shiny porcelain-like appearance and the affected area itches or feels painful. An estimated three times more women than men develop this condition. Topical steroids usually take care of necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, but cortisone injections can be used in more difficult cases.
When people develop white patches on their bodies, it is called vitiligo. It is most commonly found in body folds, near moles or at the site of a previous skin injury Vitiligo is permanent and has no known cure. Certain treatments can improve the skin’s appearance.