Type 2 Diabetes and Skin: Conditions, Prevention and Treatment
Every single person might have a bacterial skin infection. However, those who have diabetes are actually more prone to these infections. Usually, skin complications occur in case of high blood glucose levels, and they are the first sign of diabetes.
According to estimation around 1/3 of individuals with diabetes have skin conditions either influenced by the condition or related to the condition.
So, the best treatment and prevention is managing blood glucose levels.
The Impact of Type 2 Diabetes on Skin Health
When we have too high blood glucose levels for an extended period, there are a few changes which occur in our body and impact the health of our skin.
Blood glucose is removed from our body through our urine. In the case of excess blood glucose, the urination increases and that leads to dry skin and dehydration.
Furthermore, high blood glucose levels can cause inflammation, which after a certain period will overstimulate or dull the immune response.
The high blood glucose levels might also lead to blood vessel damage and nerve damage which can lower the circulation. The inadequate flow of blood might alter the structure of our skin, mainly its collagen.
Without healthy networks of collagen, our skin might become brittle and stiff. Moreover, the collagen is necessary for the proper healing of wounds.
Skin Conditions Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
There are a few skin conditions which link to uncontrolled or high blood glucose levels. In fact, most skin complications related to diabetes are actually harmless.
However, the signs of some of the complications might be persistent and painful, and sometimes they might need medical attention.
The easiest and certainly best treatment option for most of these skin conditions is the management of blood glucose levels. But, in serious cases, there might be a need of medicated creams or oral steroid.
List of 10 Skin Conditions Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
1. Diabetic Blisters or Bullae
Those who have diabetic blisters often have blisters like sores of irregular shape which appear across their hands and feet.
Furthermore, these blisters are painless and might appear in patches or alone. The only treatment for this is proper management of the blood glucose levels.
2. Eruptive Xanthomas
This is marked by itchy outbreaks of bumps from yellowish-orange to reddish-brown color. Lesions might form at almost any place of the body. However, usually, they appear on the knees, thighs, elbows, and buttocks.
3. Diabetic Ulcers
Insignificant wounds might become open sores. These sores are known by the name of diabetic ulcers. These ulcers might appear anywhere on the body, but usually, they appear on the feet.
4. Acanthosis Nigricans
This condition occurs in 74 % of obese people who have this chronic disease. It is actually characterized by a darkened velvety skin, mainly in the folds around the groin, around the armpits, and on the back of the neck.
In order to lower the risk of this condition, people should lose weight.
5. Waxy Skin and Limited Joint Mobility
People with this condition usually have waxy-looking, thick, and tight skin on their digits, skin, and hands.
This can lead to the contraction of tendons and joint stiffness. The best way to lower the risk of developing this condition is to control blood glucose levels.
6. Shin Spots and Diabetic Dermopathy
This condition is actually marked by light-brown or reddish circular patches which usually occur on the bony parts or the shins of the body.
The lesions are mainly harmless, and usually, the treatment is not necessary.
Those who have type 2 diabetes are 2 times more likely to experience psoriasis. This is in comparison to those without the disease.
Often, people with psoriasis have red patches on the skin which might be scaly and itchy. Also, some people might have changes in the nails. Some people have psoriasis and develop psoriatic arthritis, which comes with serious joint pains.
Treatment for psoriasis is good blood glucose management, injectable or oral biological drugs, cortisone ointments or creams, and weight control.
7. Sclerederma Diabeticorum
This condition related to type 2 diabetes is marked by skin thickenings which appear on the back of the neck and the upper back.
This is a rare condition which usually impacts overweight people. Treatment options are specialized light therapy and oral drugs like cyclosporine.
This complication is marked by yellow, scaly lesions which appear near and on the eyelids. It might be related to fat levels and high blood glucose.
But, it also might occur in people who don’t have sugar or fat problems. The treatment options are lipid-reducing drugs and dietary changes.
9. Skin Tags
The skin tags are skin-colored, soft growths which hang from the skin. They are very common among the general population. But excess skin tags might be a sign for uncontrolled or raised blood glucose levels.
10. NLD, i.e., Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum
Usually, lesions start as firm, small, raised bumps which progress to bigger plaques of hard, waxy, from yellow to the reddish-brown skin.
Usually, the plaques are painless, and the skin around them seems shiny and very pale. Often the lesions become waxy, and over time they have a purple border. Although it is harmless, this condition might lead to complications like scarring.
In case individual experiences relentless and dramatic patches, it might be a sign that the current diabetes treatments are not working. Treatment options for NLD are oral and topical drugs.
List of 5 Skin Conditions Impacted by Type 2 Diabetes
They are pus-filled, red painful lumps usually found along the edge of the eyelid. In addition, other signs are eyelid swelling and tearing.
2. Furuncles or Boils
These are pus-filled, red, tender lumps which usually form under the skin when one or maybe more hair follicles are infected by bacteria. More severe infection is a cluster of boils i.e. carbuncle.
This is a fungal or bacterial infection of hair follicles. There are several types such as hot tub rash, razor bumps, and barber’s itch. In fact, they are usually clusters of white-tipped pimples or small red bumps. Common symptoms are tenderness and itching.
4. Nail Infections
These lesions are tender, firm lumps which follow groups of related boils.
The Best Way to Prevent Complications
The best way to lower the frequency, risk, and severity of all skin conditions related to diabetes is by maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Drugs, diet, losing weight, and exercise might help lower the blood glucose levels, and at the same time reduce the risk of skin complications.
Skin Care Tips
- Avoid hot tubs, saunas, hot and long showers and baths
- Treat cuts right away and make sure to monitor their healing progress
- Avoid some bath products which might irritate or dry out the skin. Usually, those products are bath oils, bubble bath formulas, and scented soaps
- Avoid to rub or scratch sores, infections, and rashes
- Use mild body washes, conditioners, and shampoos
- Keep the skin as dry and as clean as possible
- Prevent overly dry skin by using moisturizers and keeping it hydrated
- Avoid feminine hygiene sprays
- Avoid using too much moisturizer between the toes
- Make sure to consult a dermatologist in case of persistent skin conditions
- Also, check your feet for some changes, skin alterations and sores on a daily basis
Bear in mind that comfortable, well-fitting shoes might help improve the foot circulation. Moreover, they can lessen or prevent the impact of other conditions. Most bacterial infections are actually easily treated when they are addressed early.