You probably wouldn’t guess that diabetes would cause your skin to have complications? Well for those who are diagnosed with diabetes, it can but there are ways to deal with it. The American Diabetes Associations states that “this is a metabolic disease in which the body’s ability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood”. There are roughly 29 million people in the United States that have diabetes. That’s about 9.3% of the US population, but roughly 371 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes.
Before I delve into what skin complications are caused by diabetes, it might be important to note more information about the disease. It is a long term condition that causes high blood sugar levels. There are two main types, Type 1; which is when the body does not produce insulin. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1. Type 2 is when the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function. Approximately 90% of all cases worldwide are of this type. There is also gestational diabetes that effects women during pregnancy. Type 1 is usually caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. Type 2 can be caused by those same factors as type 1, but being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2.
So How Does Diabetes Affect Your Skin?
Now when it comes to skin complications and diabetes the American Diabetes Association states that there are general skin conditions and diabetes-related skin conditions. These are common amongst people who don’t have diabetes, but those with the disease have higher risks of getting them.
General Skin Conditions Include:
1. Bacterial Infections: Examples would be styes, boils, folliculitis, carbuncles, and infections around the nails. This can be caused by an inflammation in tissues that are usually hot, swollen, red and painful. Several different organisms can cause infections, with the most common be staph.
2. Fungal Infections: Candida albicans is a yeast-like fungus that can create itchy rashes of moist, red areas surrounded by tiny blisters and scales.
3. Itching: Localized itching is often caused by diabetes. It can cause a yeast infection, dry skin, or poor circulation. It’s important to limit how often you bathe and to use mild soap with moisturizer.
Diabetes-Related Skin Conditions:
1. Acanthosis Nigricans: This is a condition in which tan or brown raised areas appear on the sides of the neck, armpits and groin. It usually effects people who are very overweight. The only treatment for the cause of this skin condition is to lose weight.
2. Diabetic Dermopathy: This can cause changes in the small blood vessels. These often look like light brown, scaly patches and they may be oval or circular. It can effect the front of both legs.
3. Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum: Also changes in the blood vessels. Often starts a dull, red, raised area. It looks like a shiny scar with violet border. This is a rare condition where adult women are most likely to get it.
4. Allergic Reactions: This can occur in response to medications. Symptoms may include rashes, despressions, or bumps.
5. Diabetic Blisters: These often look like burn blisters and occur in people who have diabetic neuropathy. They can be large and painless and have no redness around them. The only treatment is to bring your blood sugar levels down.
6. Eruptive Xanthomatosis: This consists of firm yellow, pea-like enlargements. Each bump has a red halo and may itch. This mainly effects young men with type 1 diabetes.
7. Digital Sclerosis: Develops thick, tight, waxy skin on the backs of their hands. Finger joints become stiff and can no longer move the way they should.
8. Dissemnated Granuloma Annulare: Is a defined ring or arc-shaped raised area on the skin.These rashes occur most often on parts of the body from the trunk. They can be red, reddish brown, or skin colored.