The Most Common Skin Complications Linked to Diabetes | Diabetes Health Page

The Most Common Skin Complications Linked to Diabetes

By NeNa | Articles

Dec 29

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

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

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

General Skin Conditions

Bacterial Infections

The most common bacterial infections among people 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 you think you have some of these skin issues, visit a doctor who will give you the right medicine.

Fungal Infections

Usually, fungal infections in people 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.


People with diabetes can have many itching areas due to poor circulation, dry skin, and yeast infection. But, they can help relieve the itching by avoiding bathing for 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, you 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 people with diabetes, especially overweight. Also, it could affect 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 shiny scar with a violet border.

In fact, you 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 you have these sores and they start to break open, make sure you visit a doctor.

Diabetic Blisters

Even though rare, this skin condition does occur on diabetic’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 you can do is balance your 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 get your 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 fingers.

So, just like diabetes blisters, your condition will improve if you take your blood sugar levels under control. Also, you could use moisturizers and lotions to help soften the skin.

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