Type 2 Diabetes and Skin: Conditions, Prevention and Treatment | Diabetes Health Page

Type 2 Diabetes and Skin: Conditions, Prevention and Treatment

By NaDica | Articles

Feb 12

Every single person might have a bacterial skin infection. However, people who have diabetes are actually more prone to these infections. Usually, the 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 the blood glucose levels.

The Impact of Type 2 Diabetes on the Health of Your Skin?

When you have too high blood glucose levels for an extended period, there are a few changes which occur in your body and impact the health of your skin.

Also, you should know that the blood glucose is removed from your body through your urine. In 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 your skin, mainly its collagen.

Moreover, you should know that without healthy networks of collagen, your skin might become brittle and stiff. Moreover, the collagen is necessary for the proper healing of your 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 related to diabetes is the management of the 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

People 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 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 diabetic ulcers. These ulcers might appear anywhere on the body, but usually, the appear on the feet.

4. Acanthosis Nigricans

This condition occurs in 74 % of obese people who have diabetes. 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 must 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 contraction of tendons and joint stiffness. The best way to lower the risk of developing this condition is to maintain your 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.

As a matter of fact, around 39 % of people who have type 2 diabetes experience diabetic dermopathy. It occurs due to the blood vessel and nerve damage, mainly small changes in the blood vessel.

The lesions are mainly harmless, and usually, the treatment is not necessary.

6. Psoriasis

People who have type 2 diabetes are 2 times more likely to experience psoriasis. This is in comparison to those people who don’t have diabetes.

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.

8. Xanthelasma

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

1. Styes

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.

3. Folliculitis

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

5. Carbuncles

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 your 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 your 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, people who have diabetes need to check their 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. You should know that most bacterial infections are actually easily treated when they are addressed early.

Make sure to always take care of yourself, your health and your skin. You should always come first.