Skin Conditions Associated With Diabetes

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Diabetes affects every part of the body, including the skin, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Some can occur in anyone but people with diabetes are more susceptible. Others may only show up in people with diabetes. Find out more about 10 skin conditions that are associated with diabetes.


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Bacterial infections

With a bacterial infection, skin or affected tissues are hot, red, swollen and painful. Some common bacterial infections that occur in people with diabetes include sties, boils, folliculitis, carbuncles, and infections around the nails, according to the ADA. These infections can be serious but are treatable with antibiotics.


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Fungal infections

Fungal infections are the most common skin infections in people with diabetes according to a study completed in 2016. These infections can appear as itchy rashes of moist, red areas surrounded by tiny blisters and scales and most often appear in the folds of the skin, such as under the breasts, between fingers and toes, and in the mouth, according to the ADA.


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Yeast infections

Yeast infections thrive on sugar and can occur when the blood sugar is not well controlled, according to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Yeast infections most often appear in the mouth, genitals, and skin folds.


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Itchy skin

Itchy skin can be the result of a skin infection, such as a yeast infection, or it might be the result of dry skin or poor circulation, according to the ADA. Limiting baths, especially in low humidity, and moisturizing after bathing may help decrease the itching.


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Diabetic scleroderma

This skin condition causes localized thickening of the skin over the upper back, according to UCSF. Systemic scleroderma causes skin thickening on other parts of the skin and internal organs. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


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Acanthosis nigricans

With acanthosis nigricans (AN), there is a hyperpigmented, velvety thickening of the skin folds, particularly in the neck, axilla and groin areas according to a report completed in 2015. When AN appears, it can be an early sign of type 2 diabetes. Losing weight along with topical retinoids can minimize symptoms.


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Necrobiosis diabeticorum

Necrobiosis diabeticorum is a rare condition but is more common in women than in men, according to the ADA. It starts as a red, raised area and causes brownish spots that resemble a shiny scar. These areas can sometimes be painful. The spots do not need to be treated unless they are painful or crack open. If this happens, you should contact your doctor.


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Diabetic dermopathy

Diabetic dermopathy is a result of changes in the small blood vessels caused by diabetes. It is characterized by light brown, scaly patches, most often on the front of the legs, and resembling age spots. These spots do not open, crack, hurt, or itch, according to the ADA.


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Vitiligo

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder most often seen in people with type 1 diabetes, according to UCSF. It is characterized by patches of white, depigmented skin.


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Eruptive xanthomatosis

This condition is caused by uncontrolled diabetes, according to the ADA, and occurs most often in young men with type 1 diabetes. It appears as firm, yellow, pea-like enlargements, each with a red halo. It most often appears on the back of the hands, feet, arms, legs, and buttocks. The spots can itch.


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The bottom line

Skin infections may not be more common in people with diabetes but are seen more often in people with uncontrolled diabetes, according to a study completed in 2016. Managing diabetes can decrease your risk of developing skin infections.