Diabetes can affect the entire body, including your skin.
About a third of people with diabetes will develop skin problems at some point. In fact, some skin issues can be warning signs of diabetes.
The good news is that most skin conditions can be treated easily, if they’re caught early.
Keeping proper control of your blood sugar (glucose) can prevent skin problems, and many other diabetes symptoms, from happening in the first place.
Although anyone can get bacterial skin infections, diabetics are more prone to them. Typical bacterial skin problems that tend to trouble people with diabetes include eyelid styes, boils, nail infections, and carbuncles — deep infections of skin and the tissue underneath.
Usually, the area around the infection will be hot, red, painful, and swollen. Treatment with antibiotic creams or pills will usually clear up these skin problems.
People with diabetes are susceptible to fungal infections, especially one called Candida albicans. This yeast-like fungus creates a red, itchy rash, frequently surrounded by small blisters and scales, that is usually found in warm, moist areas like armpits or between the toes.
Other fungal infections common to diabetics include ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and vaginal infections. Talk to your doctor about the best medication to kill fungal infections. You can also download the free Candida e-book from the Manna website and learn how to treat yourself.
Itchy skin can have many causes. In people with diabetes, a yeast infection, dry skin, or poor circulation can be the root cause. When poor blood flow is the culprit, the lower legs may be the itchiest part of the body. What can you do to stop your skin from crawling? Consider bathing less often and use mild soap when you do. Slather on some lotion to moisturize dry skin, but avoid applying it between your toes. Take the Manna Blood Circulation Support supplement which can help to increase blood flow.
Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin cells that make melanin (brown pigmentation) are destroyed, leading to irregular, blotchy patches that often occur on the hands, face, or chest. Although the cause of vitiligo is unknown, experts believe it is an autoimmune condition like type 1 diabetes, and research has found a link between the two conditions.
Although there’s no cure for vitiligo, it can be treated with light therapy or topical steroids. If you have vitiligo, it’s important to wear a sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher, since the depigmented skin has no natural sun protection.
Neuropathy-Related Skin Problems
Diabetes can cause nerve damage called neuropathy, a common diabetes symptom. Sometimes the damage causes a loss of sensation in the feet. If you step on something and injure your foot or develop a blister, you might not be able to feel it.
An open sore called a foot ulcer can develop and could get infected. Take a look at your feet every day to make sure they are not injured in any way.
It’s rare, but sometimes people with diabetes erupt in blisters (bullosis diabeticorum). The blisters occur on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet, and sometimes on the legs or forearms. They resemble burn blisters.
Having diabetic neuropathy puts you at higher risk of developing these blisters. Here’s the good news: They are usually painless and heal on their own in a few weeks.
Keeping blood glucose under control is the only treatment for this skin problem.
Out-of-control diabetes can cause eruptive xanthomatosis — firm, yellow, pea-like skin growths. The bumps have a red halo around them and may itch. They’re usually found on the backs of hands, feet, arms, and buttocks. This skin problem usually strikes young men with type 1 diabetes who also have high cholesterol and very high triglycerides (fat in the blood).
Getting blood glucose levels down is the main treatment. Your doctor may prescribe drugs to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. For a natural alternative, include cooked rolled oats for breakfast in your daily diet and exercise, to get the total cholesterol down.
About a third of people with type 1 diabetes have digital sclerosis — thick, tight, waxy skin that develops on the backs of the hands. The finger joints stiffen and become difficult to move. Sometimes skin on the toes and forehead is affected as well. Rarely, knees, ankles, or elbows may stiffen. Again, good blood glucose control is the only treatment. Moisturizer may help soften the skin.
Disseminated Granuloma Annulare
This skin problem causes raised, bumpy, or ring-shaped spots, which are skin colored, red, or red-brown. Disseminated granuloma annulare most often occurs on the fingers and ears. Some people report mild itching. Typically, treatment is not needed because the rash usually disappears on its own without leaving scars. But ask your doctor if a topical steroid, like hydrocortisone, could improve your skin problem.
Acanthosis nigricans causes the skin in body folds and creases to become dark, thick, and velvety. This skin problem usually develops in people who are very overweight. There’s no cure, but losing weight may improve the skin’s appearance. If you have the condition and haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, talk to your doctor. Acanthosis nigricans usually appears before diabetes strikes. Follow the Manna Weight Loss program in the free e-book to help you lose weight.
The best way to prevent or overcome diabetic skin problems is to control blood glucose levels by means of diet, exercise and the Manna Blood Sugar Support supplement.