All About Diabetes Skin Conditions


Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

High blood sugar levels, whether in diabetes or not, can cause a variety of skin disorders. Here’s what to watch for and how to handle each one.

Diabetes can have an effect on the health of your entire body, including your skin. Your skin, as the largest organ in your body, serves several roles, including protecting you from infection, UV rays, and harm.

Diabetes is associated with a number of skin problems. Some skin changes may occur before diabetes is diagnosed. Fortunately, most skin issues can be adequately treated if detected early.

Diabetes-Related Skin Problems: Causes and Treatment

Diabetes affects over 30% of patients with skin problems. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in hyperglycemia, or elevated blood glucose levels. This disease is associated with numerous microvascular and macrovascular consequences.

Microvascular problems are caused by the body’s extremely small blood arteries. Small blood vessel changes might have an influence on the eyes and kidneys.

Damage to larger blood vessels, such as the arteries that carry blood away from the heart, is referred to as a macrovascular problem.

Because they can stiffen and constrict the arteries, microvascular and macrovascular alterations may be linked to nerve tissue injury.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around half of all diabetics will develop neuropathy, or nerve damage. Neuropathy can have an impact on skin feeling and healing.

Diabetes can also have a harmful impact on circulation. This means that it may reduce the amount of nutrients and oxygen delivered to the extremities (such as the hands and feet) and skin. This makes skin healing more difficult.

“Diabetic foot wounds are probably the most common things that are problematic, which can be related to poor blood flow and diabetic nerve disease,” says Richard Siegel, M.D., endocrinologist and co-director of the Diabetes and Lipid Centre at Tufts Medical Centre in Boston.

Itchiness in the skin can also be caused by poor circulation. Because of a fluid imbalance, hyperglycemia can produce dry skin. This occurs when the body’s water is used to flush out excess glucose rather than keeping the skin moisturised.

Skin Symptoms to Look Out For

Changes in your skin may indicate internal bodily changes. It’s critical to notify your doctor if you see anything out of the ordinary.

Keep an eye out for the following skin symptoms if you have diabetes:

Dry skin: If you have abnormally dry skin, you may be suffering from xerosis. Diabetes patients frequently experience this.

Rashes and redness




Bacterial and fungal infections are examples of infections.

High glucose levels can put you at risk of illness. Although bacteria and fungi are generally recognised and eliminated by the immune system, “when blood sugars are out of control (above 180 mg/dL to 200 mg/dL), the immune system doesn’t work as well,” notes Dr. Siegel.

When the immune system fails to function effectively, minor problems might escalate into major ones. According to Dr. Siegel, “what could be a simple folliculitis inflammation of the skin could then turn into more of a bacterial abscess,” or a large mass of pus.

According to Dr. Siegel, your body may also have a more difficult time healing from an infection: “Hyperglycemia definitely can worsen a pre-existing infection in terms of its ability to heal up.”

In general, an infection can be identified by the infected area becoming hot, uncomfortable, and swollen. Diabetes patients are at risk for the following infections:

  • A boil is a pus-filled lump on the skin that looks like a huge, painful pimple. A carbuncle is a collection of close-together boils.
  • Styes: These often painful infections in the eyelash follicles are caused by obstructions in the eyelid oil glands.
  • Toenail fungal infections, such as onychomycosis, can cause your toenails to become discoloured, thickened, or cracked.
  • Foot of an athlete: This fungal infection, which is not limited to athletes, can produce fissures, itching, and dry skin between the toes and on the bottom of the feet. “Diabetics are definitely more prone to foot fungus,” Dr. Siegel observes.
  • Jock itch and vaginal infection are caused by an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast. Itching, redness, rashes, and tiny blisters can all result from these illnesses.
  • Ringworm: This fungal infection of the skin may be itchy and red, with a raised border, and is named ringworm primarily because of its circular form (it does not include a worm).

Diabetes-Related Dermopathy

Diabetic dermopathy (DD) is a common skin disorder in diabetics that occurs more frequently in those over the age of 50. Scaly brown patches on the front of the legs may occur in people with DD.

The patches are rarely uncomfortable. They are sometimes mistaken for age spots, although they are harmless and do not require treatment.

Diabetic Lipoidica Necrobiosis

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD), like DD, damages the skin on the legs. However, the patches with NLD are often larger, deeper, and red. It is possible that the affected area will be uncomfortable and irritating.

While NLD is more common among women, Dr. Siegel says it’s “actually fairly rare.” Unless the spots crack and open, no treatment is required. Dr. Siegel notes that NLD rarely causes difficulties “unless there are significant ulcers,” but that “wraps of topical treatment with steroids can sometimes be of value.”

Sclerosis of the Digits

The skin on the back of the hands may become waxy, thick, and tight as a result of digital sclerosis. As a result, your joints may become stiff, making it difficult to bend your fingers.

If blood glucose levels remain high, digital sclerosis may spread to the skin in other parts of the body. It is more common in patients with type 1 diabetes. Treatment includes glucose management and physical therapy to increase joint mobility.

Granuloma Annulare Disseminatum

Ring-shaped red or brown patches of skin are caused by disseminated granuloma annulare. Granuloma annulare can be localised (limited to one location) or disseminated (universal and extensive). It may appear on the ears, hands, or body.

Diabetes and hyperlipidemia, or excessive amounts of fat in the blood, are both linked to Granuloma annulare. There are drugs available to help address the issue.

Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a darkening of the velvety texture of the skin. These include skin folds around the neck, groyne, and armpits. AN also causes skin thickening. It is most commonly associated with diabetes and insulin resistance.

There is no cure for AN. It may, however, fade when glucose levels improve. Creams may help brighten the afflicted regions in some circumstances.

Blisters from Diabetes

Bullosis diabeticorum, or diabetic blisters, may appear to be burned, yet they are usually painless. Diabetes blisters can appear on the hands, feet, legs, or arms. The blisters will usually cure on their own, leaving no scars. Managing blood glucose levels will aid in the treatment and prevention of blisters.

Diabetic Skin Rashes Treatment Alternatives

While some diabetes-related skin issues resolve on their own, others necessitate treatment. Treatment options may include:

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: There are numerous OTC medications available to treat diabetic skin rashes. The treatment will be determined on the sort of skin issue you have. To treat athlete’s foot, for example, you can use over-the-counter antifungal lotion. Before taking any over-the-counter drug, consult your doctor.

Medications: In some circumstances, you will require more than an over-the-counter remedy. To address your specific skin disease, your doctor may give antibiotics, prescription antifungals, or other medication. Furthermore, “from a cosmetic standpoint, a dermatologist may have something to offer,” according to Dr. Siegel.

Changes in lifestyle: Managing blood glucose levels is an important part of treating any diabetes-related skin disease. Diabetes is best managed by addressing lifestyle factors and adopting behavioural changes. Diabetes self-management comprises the following steps:

  • Healthy coping: When you are stressed, the hormones generated cause your blood glucose to rise. Stress reduction can help you improve your diabetes. Talking with a friend, being active, doing something you enjoy, and getting adequate sleep are all examples of healthy coping.
  • Eating well has an impact on your blood glucose levels. Try meal planning and learning to read food labels to ensure you’re eating in a way that helps you control your diabetes. Dietary patterns that emphasise a high diet of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins may lower blood glucose levels.
  • Being active: Including more activity in your day will help you improve your blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics engage in 150 minutes of moderate to strenuous physical activity every week. Walking, gardening, yoga, swimming, and weightlifting are among examples.
  • Treating diabetes: It is critical to take diabetic medications as directed in order to best manage your diabetes.
  • Monitoring: The frequency with which you check your blood glucose levels at home is determined by your treatment goals.Monitoring your own levels provides instant feedback and can reveal how your diet and physical activity affect your levels.
  • Reducing risks: To reduce your risk of diabetes problems, you should visit your doctor on a frequent basis. They will assess your blood pressure, sensation in your feet, and cholesterol levels. Furthermore, diabetes education, getting enough sleep, and quitting smoking can all lower your risk of diabetes-related problems.
  • Problem solving: Managing diabetes may necessitate changes to your treatment over time. Recognising when you need to make changes to your living behaviours will assist you in meeting your blood glucose targets.

What Is the Prognosis for Diabetes-Related Skin Problems?

Diabetes-related skin issues can be aggravating or unpleasant. However, most are easily treated by controlling blood glucose levels.

If you have diabetes, notify your doctor as soon as you see any changes in your skin. Remember that what happens on the skin’s surface may represent what happens inside the body.

Most diabetes skin issues have little long-term impact on overall health when treated early.

Our Outlook –

How are we able to Treat Diabetes Completely?

“Madhumeha” is the term for Diabetes in Ayurveda, which means ‘Sweet urine’. The manifestation of diabetes is through thirst or urination. According to Ayurveda, due to accumulation of Vata Dosha. Vata dosha accumulates in the large intestine and travels to the pancreas, which hampers its functioning.

Sometimes, Pitta Dosha also leads to diabetes. This is when Pitta gets accumulated in the small intestine before moving to the liver and may cause damage to pancreas. As the main constituent of Pitta is Agni, it burns out pancreas leading to Diabetes.

If the above things are taken into consideration, the treatment of Diabetes in Ayurveda starts with proper cleansing of the body and balancing of doshas. The treatment includes herbal combinations that are prepared based on individual Prakruti and Vikruti analysis. Ie. The treatment is based on a person’s body composition & which dosha is dominant. The treatments like Dhara, Udwarthanam, Thalam, etc are followed to reverse diabetes. The treatment also includes Panchakarma & Yoga procedures to address the root cause of disease. We have seen many patients successfully reversing Diabetes and now living a healthy life.

Unlike other treatment procedures that jump straight to symptom management, we address the root-cause of the disease. Our treatment for Diabetes has proved to achieve a near cure and symptom-free state. We focus on diet, use of potent herbs, meditation, massage with herbal oils and yoga. These classical ayurveda practices have proven & shown sustained results in our Diabetes Treatment.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Soumya Hullannavar, Lead Ayurveda Endocrine Specialist at Diabetes Reversal Clinics & EliteAyurveda Clinics. With over 15 years of experience in treating endocrine & diabetes cases

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