diabetic demopathy

What is Diabetic Dermopathy? Causes & Treatments of Diabetic Skin Conditions

Photo credit: Cottonbro

No one wants skin problems, but at some point we all get them. Globally we spend billions trying to fight and prevent skin problems. This ranges from issues with acne, disease, and scars to aging. Experts estimate that by the year 2024 we will spend 180 billion annually around the world for skincare products. This should highlight the commitment people have to control skin problems and not letting them rob them of their quality of life.

Diabetics have special issues when it comes to skin concerns. Diabetes causes changes in the small blood vessels. These changes along with circulation problems, and high levels of glucose in blood cause different types of skin issues. These skin problems are treatable and sometimes preventable, but they are continual and must be watched for.

Photo credit: Kjerstin_Michaela

Diabetic control

Logically, the easiest way to prevent skin issues due to diabetes is to control diabetes as much as possible. The key is proper eating and blood glucose testing. A diabetic patient should never be without their glucose meter. They need a high-quality meter that is portable, made by experts in the field, easy to use, and easy to transmit the data to their medical professional. 

The Contour Next Glucose meters made by Ascensia Diabetes Care. They meet all of these requirements. The repeat expense is the lancets and the testing strips. Here is the problem. People hesitate to keep up with their blood sugar because they do not want to spend money on the supplies. There are ways to obtain free glucose test strips. There are ways to cut the expenses down so you can afford to keep up. Skip the drug store and go to the manufacturer’s website. They have programs to help. One program gives you a free meter and enrolls you in a savings plan where you get big discounts on the strips that go in the meter. You just register and print the cards and take them with you to the drug store. If you want to control your skin, you have to control your diabetes.   

Diabetes-Related Skin conditions

Diabetic Dermopathy

Dermopathy often looks like light brown, scaly patches. These patches may be oval or circular. Some people mistake them for age spots. This usually happens on the front of each (both) legs. They are not painful and they do not itch. Dermopathy requires no treatment. They are not contagious and are not symptoms of another illness. It is caused by changes in the small blood vessels in the legs and poor circulation. 

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum

The spots caused by NLD are similar to those of diabetic dermopathy. However, there are fewer of them and they are bigger and deeper.  

They begin as a red spot that is raised and after a while, they will have a light purplish border. They will look shiny and you can sometimes see the tiny veins inside them. This is a rare condition and usually women get them. The sores become itchy and painful. If the sores break open, medical treatment is needed to prevent infection. 

Acanthosis nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition in which tan, gray, or brown raised areas appear on the sides of the neck, armpits, inner thighs, and groin. Sometimes they also occur on the hands, elbows, and knees. Acanthosis nigricans usually affects people who are obese. The best treatment is to lose weight. Some creams can help the spots look better. Some patients have said the use of Tea Tree Oil has helped fade the condition. 

Photo credit: Hans

Bacterial infections

People with diabetes get a lot of bacterial, fungal, and viral infections in the skin. Besides the regular diabetic-related issues, many people with diabetes fight obesity. The problems with moisture being trapped in folds of skin create a perfect location for bacteria to grow. Other bacterial and fungal infections include:

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

Inflamed tissues are usually hot, swollen, red, and can be extremely painful. Many organisms can cause infections, the most common being Staphylococcus bacteria, also called staph. Staph has gotten more difficult to treat in recent years and it spreads easily.

Note! Untreated, a staph infection can cause death. If you have a sore that hurts, is hot to the touch, and is anywhere close to the brain, see your doctor immediately. Oozing sores are contagious to others also. 

People with diabetes have more bacterial infections than other people do. Doctors believe people with diabetes can reduce their chances of these infections by practicing good skincare.

Eruptive xanthomatosis

Out of control diabetes is believed to be the cause of eruptive xanthomatosis. These yellow bumps in the skin are the size and shape of a pea and they have a red halo. The bumps are often found on the backs of the hands, on the arms, legs, feet, and buttocks. They usually itch.  They are found most often on men with type one diabetes whose illness is out of control. Once his diabetes has been restored to a manageable level, it usually goes away. 

The disorder usually occurs in young men with type 1 diabetes. The person often has high levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood. Like diabetic blisters, these bumps disappear when diabetes control is restored.

What you can do

No one wants to have skin problems. They are not fun to say the least and they are embarrassing and painful. But there are some steps you can take to prevent them.

  • Watch your blood sugar
    • Check your blood glucose often and adjust your diet to keep your levels under control
  • Drink plenty of fresh water
    • Drinking water is good for everyone’s skin. It is especially true for the diabetic. Keep your body flushed of toxins and your skin hydrated
  • Self-checks
    • Every diabetic should be in the habit of doing daily self-checks. This is to ensure there are no blisters or sores on your feet, cuts or scrapes on your body, or problems that you are unaware of. 
  • Stay clean and dry
    • Bacteria grow in moist places. Shower daily using antibacterial soap. Do not use moisturizing beauty bars or body washes These products are fine for your face and arms. Anywhere there are folds of skin that air cannot easily reach, wash with antibacterial soap.
  • Wear clothes that breathe
    • Allow maximum air to reach your body by wearing natural fabrics like cotton.
  • Stay in communication with your doctor
    • Learn which skin conditions you deal with and how to work with them. Set-up video appointments so you can reach his office and have him take a look if something looks unusual to you. Do not ignore anything. What is minor tonight could be major by morning. 

These steps are just part of the life of a diabetic. You have this. The easiest way to deal with diabetic skin issues is to prevent them. So, start today and keep these problems away from your skin. You will be glad you did. 

Source: American Diabetes Association

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