Diabetes-Related Skin Conditions

Learn What Skin Conditions Diabetes Can Cause

Diabetes is a medical condition that is associated with a high rate of skin conditions. In the course of their lives, about one in three diabetics will have a skin condition. Diabetes symptoms cause diabetics to become susceptible to skin-related issues. Diabetics may experience rashes caused by allergic reactions to foods or medications; itchy, dry skin due to poor blood circulation; as well as different bacterial or fungal infections.

Potential Diabetes-Related Skin Conditions

Diabetes is known to cause or correlate with the appearance of several types of skin conditions.

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition involving thick and discolored skin in body folds such as the neck, armpits, and groin. People with diabetes and/or obesity are most commonly affected by this skin condition. No definitive treatment is available for acanthosis nigricans. Procedures do exist to address its symptoms, notably the changes to the skin color and texture.

Diabetic blisters, also known as bullosis diabeticorum, are rare. Most often the blisters develop on the feet and legs. Some blisters can grow several inches long. The majority of blisters are painless and involve no scarring.

Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses its natural color and patches of lighter skin appear. The cause of vitiligo is unknown, yet there does seem to be a correlation between vitiligo and type 1 diabetes. While no cure for vitiligo exists, ultraviolet (UV) light therapy and steroidal creams are used to improve the skin’s appearance.

Disseminated granuloma annulare, colloquially referred to as “shin spots,” is a skin lesion characterized by red, purple, or brown papules that turn into atrophic hyperpigmented skin lesions on the shins. Caused by leakage from the small blood vessels that supply the skin with blood, shin spots are present in as many as half of all diabetics. People with poorly controlled or long-standing diabetes are most susceptible.

Eruptive xanthomatosis is characterized by itchy yellow bumps that form on the skin. These bumps are associated with high cholesterol and insulin resistance in diabetics, which make eliminating fat from blood difficult. The bumps usually occur around the eyes, elbows, and face and disappear after several weeks.

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