Apart from usual diabetes symptoms like frequent urination, feeling very hungry, thirsty, weight loss, numb hands or feet, there are several signs of the disease that one can spot on skin.
With each passing day, each one of us is more at risk of diabetes than a couple of years back. No longer the disease of elderly, diabetes is being diagnosed in children, teens, young people – basically people of any and every age. Diabetes cases are rising across the globe and as per estimates, India has 77 million diabetics which is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045. As our modern lifestyle allows us little time for physical activity and preparing healthy and nutritious food at home, this could be a deadly combination for development of diabetes which needs life-long management and puts us at grave risk of life-threatening complications related to kidney, heart disease, nerve diseases and oral health, to name a few.
Diagnosing the disease early on and starting medication while introducing lifestyle changes is the key to tackle diabetes. Apart from the usual symptoms like frequent urination, feeling very hungry, feeling thirsty, losing weight, numb hands or feet there are several signs that one can spot in skin.
If you are having certain skin issues or diseases, chances are they might be the result of uncontrolled sugar levels.
Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics opens up about diabetic skin conditions and their common symptoms that one should be aware of:
1. HOT, SWOLLEN AND RED SKIN
This could be due to bacterial infections that can cause inflammation on the skin and it can become hot, swollen, red and painful. The most common bacterial infection is staph infection. Styes, boils, folliculitis, carbuncles and infection in the nails are examples of common bacterial infections.
2. RASHES AND BLISTERS
These can be due to fungal infections. Yeast like fungal infections caused because of Candida Albicans is the most common fungal infection affecting diabetic people. This fungus can cause itchy rashes, blisters and scales in moist and warm folds of the skin. The most common infection sites are under the breasts, nails, between fingers and toes, armpits etc. Fungal infections include vaginal infection, jock itch, athlete’s foot and ringworm etc.
This is the most common type of skin issue with diabetes. This is mostly caused because of poor circulation, dry skin and infection, especially in the lower parts of the legs.
4. DARK, VELVETY, TANNED SKIN
This condition is called Acanthosis Nigricans. It causes dark, velvety, tanned, areas of skin. the thickened and hyperpigmented skin is one of the first signs of diabetes in a person. The patches of grey, black, brown skin which feel velvety to touch can occur in neck, armpits, groin, hands, elbows and knees.
5. LIGHT BROWN, SCALY PATCHES
Diabetic dermopathy appears as light brown, scaly patches on the skin that are barely noticeable and often mistaken as sun spots. The most common place of appearance is lower legs and around the shins. Dermopathy causes minuscule depressions on the skin and is very common in diabetic men and women. Dermopathy occurs because high insulin levels damage the nerves and blood vessels.
Though this condition can affect anybody people with type 2 diabetes are at a high risk of contracting psoriasis. This infection causes discoloured patches on the skin that are scaly and itchy.
7. SCLERODERMA DIABETICORUM
Common symptoms include thickening in the upper part of the body such as areas of upper back and back of the neck.
8. NECROBIOSIS LIPOIDICA DIABETICORUM
This skin condition first starts to appear as dull, red and raised area and look similar to those in dermopathy, but they are bigger and deeper and spaced apart. These areas can become itchy and painful and start to look like a shiny scar with visible blood vessels. When not treated the skin becomes itchy and painful.
Rashes, depressions, bumps are common allergic reactions caused by diabetic treatments.
10. DIABETIC BLISTERS
Though rare, diabetic blisters often occur in patients who are already affected by diabetic neuropathy. These blisters can occur on fingers, hands, toes, legs, feet etc. They heal by themselves.
11. ERUPTIVE XANTHOMATOSIS
This skin condition occurs when the diabetes is at uncontrolled levels. The symptoms include yellow, round shaped bumps on the skin that can be itchy and red. They usually appear in patients with type 1 diabetes on the back of hands, feet, arms, legs and buttocks.
12. DIGITAL SCLEROSIS
This condition is characterised by thick, waxy skin on the back of the hands and it feels tight. If left untreated the finger joints become stiff and difficult to move. It can also develop on the face, shoulders and chest.
13. DIABETIC ULCERS
These are caused because of poor circulation and nerve damage because of high sugar levels in the body. High insulin levels make it difficult for the body to heal wounds, especially in the feet. The open wounds are referred to as diabetic ulcers. These open wounds can cause permanent damage and even raise the need of amputation if not treated.
SKIN CARE TIPS FOR DIABETICS
All these skin conditions can be easily managed with little care. Keeping diabetes well managed enables the body to fight off the harmful bacteria and other infections easily. Other things that a diabetic person should be careful about are:
• Keep the skin clean and dry at all times.
• Don’t use hot baths or bubble baths on dry skin. Avoid hot showers at all costs.
• Avoid putting lotions and creams in between toes.
• Treat any minor cut or wound right away. Go to a doctor if there is any major cut or burn or infection on the skin.
• See the dermatologist if you have major skin problems that seem to be spreading.