Diabetes And Skin Conditions: What You Need To Know
Skin Conditions Specific to Those With Diabetes (Continued)
- Diabetic Dermopathy. Diabetic dermopathy occurs when diabetes causes changes to the blood vessels. This condition causes brown, scaly patches that may look similar to age spots. The patches usually occur on the front of one or both legs and are not painful. This condition is annoying but not harmful.
- Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD). No, it’s not a Harry Potter spell. This is another condition caused by changes in the blood vessels and is similar to diabetic dermopathy, but it causes spots that are fewer, larger, and deeper. NLD may begin with a dull, reddish, raised area, and may progress to look like a scar with a purplish border. The blood vessels under the skin may become visible. The spots may be itchy and painful and are subject to cracking.
- Diabetic Sclerosis. This condition causes thick, waxy skin to develop on the backs of hands. The finger joints may also become stiff. In rare cases, digital sclerosis may also affect knees, ankles, or elbows. This condition will affect about a third of those with type 1 diabetes.
- Eruptive Xanthomatosis. What a name! Not surprisingly, this is an especially troublesome condition caused by uncontrolled diabetes. Firm, yellow, pea-like enlargements appear on the skin and may have a red halo and be itchy. It appears most often on the backs of hands, feet, legs, and buttocks. Interestingly, this condition is most common in young men with type 1 diabetes. The bumps will clear when a person’s blood sugar is back under control.
Keep in mind that though people with diabetes are at risk for these conditions, not everyone will necessarily develop a skin condition. Maintaining good glucose control is the best way to prevent or minimize skin complications, and proper skin care can go a long way in preventing the problems from starting.
Proper Skin Care
If you have a severe skin condition or have questions or concerns, you should talk to your doctor about the best steps to take. Focus on preventing skin issues before they start by focusing on these strategies:
- Keep your diabetes well-managed. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But keep in mind that high blood sugar increases dry skin and makes you less able to fight off bacteria and therefore more susceptible to infection.
- Maintain clean, dry skin. Definitely don’t walk around in wet socks or sweaty gym clothes for hours. (But you wouldn’t do that anyway, right?)
- Say no to hot baths and showers. No need to do a polar-bear plunge every morning, but hot water is drying to your skin. Use warm water only, and try not to stay in there until you’re pruny! A moisturizing soap or body wash may also help.
- Keep your home more humid in cold, dry weather. If the heater can dry out your plants, it can dry out your skin! Consider a humidifier, and it may be helpful to bathe less in cold weather. You’ll save water too!
- Moisturize, especially in cold, dry weather. Invest in quality lotion that doesn’t both your skin, and then use it!
- Take care of cuts right away. When it comes to cuts, bites, and burns, there’s no time like the present. Wash cuts with soap and water, and use a doctor-approved antibiotic cream. Cover cuts with sterile gauze if necessary. And please, if you get a major cut or burn, head over to the doctor!
- Take good care of your feet! Perhaps this should have been first on the list because it’s so important! You should check your feet daily for sores and cuts and wear shoes that are comfortable and protective. Your feet are especially susceptible to neuropathy, so give them extra care!
Skin care should be at the top of your (very long) to-do list if you have diabetes. If you have a persistent or concerning issue, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about the best skin-care plan. Your skin does a lot for you, so please show it the loves it deserves! Stay healthy, friends!