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Not just sugar levels. Diabetes can mess with your skin too in these 5 ways

Published on:21 November 2020, 11:09am IST
Diabetics are prone to skin problems, but thankfully there are ways to tackle it. Here’s what a dermatologist suggests you should do.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Skin problems and diabetes go hand in hand. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If you think blood sugar fluctuations are all that diabetics suffer from, then you are highly mistaken. Skin woes are also a by-product of this ailment, and sometimes they can make things miserable. Itching, skin peeling, dryness, blisters — this list can just go on and on. These problems will not just make your skin look lifeless, but it also makes you look aged.

But what does diabetics have to do with skin? 

Dr Ajay Rana, a renowned dermatologist and aesthetic physician informs that diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to several other health and skin-related issues such as skin sores or a leg rash. 

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“The main reason for all these skin problems that diabetics suffer from are due to the increase in blood sugar or glucose levels in the body. Diabetes also affects the small blood vessels of the body that supply the skin with blood. The changes to the blood vessels because of diabetes can also cause severe skin conditions,” says Dr Rana.

He adds, “Because of diabetes, the blood vessels supplying blood to the skin become narrow, due to a lack of oxygen, and this leads to many skin problems. Decrease in blood circulation can also cause changes in the collagen levels of the skin. This changes the skin’s texture, and its appearance.”

Shocked? Now, let’s find out what are the most common skin problems that diabetics deal with.

1. Red or dark patches on the skin

This skin condition is also known as necrobiosis lipoidica. It begins as a solid bump that looks like a pimple. After a few days, these bumps turn into patches of hard and swollen skin. These patches can be reddish, yellow or brown in colour. Patches can be irritating, painful and itchy as well. The skin surrounding these dark patches looks shiny, and blood vessels can be easily visible.

2. Blisters

“Blisters are commonly seen in any person suffering from type 2 diabetes. The blisters mostly appear on the hands, feet, legs, or forearms, and look like a burn injury. The only difference is that blisters that are caused due to burns are more painful, and the rest are not,” said Dr Rana.

3. Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections are especially problematic for people with type 2 diabetes. These infections are often painful and warm to touch, accompanied by swelling and redness. When the blood glucose levels of the body increases chronically, then it may increase in size, number, and frequency of the bacterial infections.

4. Diabetic dermopathy

Diabetic dermopathy is a skin condition, also known as shin spots. This condition is characterised by light brown, scaly patches on the skin, often occurring on the shins. These patches may be oval or circular in shape.

Diabetic dermopathy is generally caused by the damage to small blood vessels that supply tissues with nutrition and oxygen. It is harmless and doesn’t require any treatment. Sometimes, it doesn’t go away, even when blood glucose in the body is controlled.

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5. Acanthosis nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is a darkened band of thickened, velvety skin, especially in the areas of folds near the groin, back of the neck, or armpits. This skin condition is a sign of prediabetes, but it can also be caused due to hormonal problems, or the after effects of some medications, such as birth control pills, corticosteroid, and niacin. Acanthosis nigrican generally affects people who are obese, is a marker of insulin resistance. In many cases, it goes away when the patient loses weight.

Don’t be scared, as Dr Rana says there is a way to deal with all of it.

There are many medications, treatments, or lifestyle changes you can follow to get rid of these skin problems:
  • You can take OTC remedies for certain types of skin disorders associated with type 2 diabetes, on the recommendation of your dermatologist. These include non-prescription antifungals, clotrimazole, topical steroid medications that contain 1% hydrocortisone.
  • Some skin conditions caused by type 2 diabetes are so severe that they require medication. You can take antibiotics, stronger antifungal medications, or insulin therapy to tackle these skin conditions.

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  • You must also consume a healthy diet, practice regular exercise, and maintain a healthy weight to keep the blood sugar levels in check.
  • Always try and prevent dry skin that can increase the chances of appearance of these skin problems. If you have dry skin, don’t scratch it. It can create lesions, and further increase the risk of skin infections.
  • In case of any cuts on the skin, treat it immediately because it increases the chances of infection.
  • Do not take hot baths or showers as they can make your skin dry.

So, follow these amazing tips and stay free from all skin problems caused by diabetes!

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.