Diabetic skin conditions are extremely common among people with the disease. It is estimated that about one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder at some time in their lives. People with diabetes are more susceptible to a range of infections and allergens, including reactions to bacteria, fungus, medications, insect bites, and food. As a result, diabetes-related skin conditions are quite common.
If you suspect you have one of these infections or conditions, schedule an appointment at our Mt. Vernon office as soon as possible. Fast treatment is key to a quick and healthy recovery.
Types of Diabetic Skin Conditions
There are several diabetes-related skin conditions. Diabetic skin condition symptoms will vary by the type of infection or reaction experienced. Below, you will find some common conditions.
- Acanthosis Nigricans. This is a slowly progressing skin condition that turns some areas of the body, usually in the folds or creases, into dark, thick, and velvet-textured skin. Acanthosis nigricans often precedes the diagnosis of diabetes. It is sometimes inherited but is usually triggered by high insulin levels. This can occur at any age and usually affects people who are obese. There is no treatment for the condition except to reduce insulin levels. Prescription creams may help lighten the affected area.
- Diabetic Blisters. Rare blisters that appear on the hands, toes, feet or forearms that are thought to be caused by diabetic neuropathy.
- Diabetic Dermopathy. This condition consists of round, brown or purple scaly patches that most frequently appear on the front of the legs (most often the shins). They are caused by changes in small blood vessels. Diabetic dermopathy occurs more often in people who have suffered from diabetes for decades. They are harmless, requiring no medical intervention, but they are slow to heal.
- Digital Sclerosis. This condition appears as thick, waxy, and tight skin on toes, fingers, and hands, which can cause stiffness in the digits. Getting blood glucose levels back to normal helps alleviate this skin condition.
- Disseminated Granuloma Annulare. This is a red or reddish-brown rash that forms a bull’s eye on the skin, usually on the fingers, toes or ears. While not serious, it is advised that you talk to your dermatologist about taking steroid medications to make the rash go away.
- Eruptive Xanthomatosis. This condition is a pea-like enlargement in the skin with a red halo that itches. It most frequently appears on the hands, feet, arms, legs, and/or buttocks. It is often a response to high triglycerides. Keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range helps this condition subside.
- Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum. This condition is similar to diabetic dermopathy, but the spots are larger, fewer, and deeper in the skin and have a shiny, porcelain-like appearance. It is often itchy or painful and goes through cycles of being active and inactive. This condition is caused by changes in collagen and fat underneath the skin. Typically, topical steroids are used to treat necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum. In more severe cases, cortisone injections may be required.
- Vitiligo. Vitiligo refers to the development of white patches anywhere on the skin. It usually affects areas of skin that have been exposed to sun. Vitiligo also appears in body folds, near moles, or at the site of previous skin injury. The condition is permanent and there is no known cure or prevention. However, there are some treatments that can be used to improve the appearance of the skin, such as steroid creams and ultraviolet light therapy.
Treatment for Diabetic Skin Conditions
The diabetic skin condition treatment you receive will depend on the rash or infection you experience. Some diabetic skin conditions heal on their own and require no treatment. Others will go away once insulin levels are reduced. Others still will respond well to steroid treatment. Regardless, most diabetic skin conditions signal abnormal insulin. A rash should always facilitate a response – either a visit to the doctor or an insulin test.
When to See a Doctor for Diabetes-Related Skin Conditions
Most of the above conditions do not require a visit to the doctor. However, if you experience chronic diabetes-related skin conditions, visiting the dermatologist can prove helpful. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our Mt. Vernon office today.