Skin Complications When You Have Diabetes

Believe it or not, skin complications are sometimes the first sign that you may have diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with diabetes develop skin diseases much more easily than those without the condition, making them more susceptible to general skin conditions such as bacterial infections, fungal infections, and localized itching. More specifically, styes, boils, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm.

“When you have too much sugar in the blood for a long time it can cause several complications, including those of the skin,” said Dr. Richard Pinsker, Endocrinologist at Jamaica Hospital. “Your body loses fluid which causes your skin to become dry. Additionally, nerve damage decreases the amount you sweat, which usually helps keep the skin moist. Dry skin can then crack and peel, allowing germs to enter the body to cause an infection.”

Dr. Pinsker added, “a reduced blood supply to the skin and a resistance to insulin can also lead to skin complications.”

There are several skin conditions that mostly affect or only affect people with diabetes, such as diabetic dermopathy and diabetic blisters. Some of these conditions are painful, while others are found to be embarrassing.

Fortunately, most of these conditions can be prevented or easily treated, if caught early. To reduce the risk of developing skin-related complications of diabetes, it is recommended that individuals keep their glucose levels in a safe range by eating healthy, exercising and taking their medication. It is also important that proper skin care is practiced. Individuals with diabetes should consider the following tips for good skin care:

  • Keep skin clean and moisturized.
  • Avoid very hot baths and showers, and use moisturizing soap and mild shampoos.
  • Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water.
  • During cold, dry months, keep your home more humid. Bathe less during this weather, if possible.

If not cared for properly, these conditions, in a person with diabetes, can turn into a serious problem with potentially severe consequences. If you have diabetes and have noticed changes to your skin, please call 718-206-6742 to schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist or dermatologist.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.