November 10


The Most Common Skin Complications Linked to Diabetes

By Gabriela

November 10, 2021

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than our blood sugar levels. In fact, it can affect every part of our body, including our eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves, and even our skin.

Even though anyone can have general skin problems, like itching, fungal and bacterial infections, those with diabetes are more prone to them.

On the other hand, certain skin complications affect only those who have this chronic disease. They include diabetic dermopathy, eruptive xanthomatosis, diabetic blisters, and necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum.

General Skin Conditions

Bacterial Infections

The most common bacterial infections among those with diabetes include:

  • Boils
  • Styes (affecting the glands of the eyelid)
  • Folliculitis (affecting the hair follicles)
  • Infections around the nails
  • Carbuncles (deep infections of the tissue underneath skin)

The affected area is usually red, swollen, hot, and painful, mostly caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. If someone thinks they have some of these skin issues, they should visit a doctor who will give them the right medicine.

Fungal Infections

Usually, fungal infections in those with diabetes are caused by Candida albicans.

The most common areas affected by this fungus are warm and moist, such as around the nails, under the breasts, in the corners of the mouth, between toes and fingers, and in the armpits.

Ringworm, athlete’s foot, vaginal infection, and jock itch are the most common fungal infections.


Those with this chronic condition can have many itching areas due to poor circulation, dry skin, and yeast infection. But, they can help relieve the itching by avoiding bathing too often, applying skin cream after bathing, and using mild soap with moisturizer.

Skin Conditions Related to Diabetes

Diabetic Dermopathy

This skin condition is harmless and recognized for the brown, scaly patches that occur due to changes in the blood vessels. They can be circular or oval.

In fact, people may know them as shin spots which are similar to age spots. Diabetic dermopathy is not itchy or painful, and usually affects the front part of both legs.

Acanthosis Nigricans

Dark, raised skin areas on the sides of the neck, groin and armpits could indicate Acanthosis nigricans in those with diabetes, especially overweight. Also, it could affect the knees, hands, and elbows. So, the best way to reduce their appearance is to lose some excess pounds or use some creams.

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD)

NLD is a skin complication that affects blood vessels in those with diabetes. First, it begins as a red, dull, raised area, gradually progressing into a shiny scar with a violet border.

In fact, we could even see the blood vessels under the skin. In some cases, it’s painful and itchy and could even crack open.

Usually, adult women with diabetes get it. So, if someone has these sores and they start to break open, they should visit a doctor.

Diabetic Blisters

Even though rare, this skin condition does occur on one’s back of fingers, toes, hands, forearms, and legs. These blisters can be large but aren’t usually red or painful. Also, diabetic blisters heal by themselves in about 3 weeks, and the only thing one can do is balance their blood sugar levels.

Eruptive Xanthomatosis

Uncontrolled diabetes can sometimes cause Eruptive xanthomatosis – a skin condition that’s characterized by yellow, firm enlargements in the skin that look like peas. Also, they are itchy and surrounded by a red halo.

It usually occurs on the back of feet, hands, legs, arms, and buttocks in young men with type 1 diabetes. What’s more, it could indicate the person has high cholesterol levels as well. So, the best thing to do is to get blood sugar and cholesterol levels back to balance.

Digital Sclerosis

This skin condition affects the fingers, toes, and hands whose skin becomes tight, thick, and waxy. Moreover, it could cause joint stiffness in the fingers.

So, just like diabetes blisters, one’s condition will improve if one takes their blood sugar levels under control. Also, they could use moisturizers and lotions to help soften the skin.

These are just some of the skin complications related to diabetes. So, be sure to pay attention to your skin to help notice any potential signs that will help prevent the condition from progressing.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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