5 WARNING SIGNS OF DIABETES THAT APPEAR ON YOUR SKIN
Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your skin. When diabetes affects the skin, it’s often a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high. This could mean that:
- You have undiagnosed diabetes, or pre-diabetes
- Your treatment for diabetes needs to be adjusted
If you notice any of the following warning signs on your skin, it’s time to talk with your doctor.
1. Yellow, reddish, or brown patches on your skin
This skin condition often begins as small raised solid bumps that look like pimples. As it progresses, these bumps turn into patches of swollen and hard skin. The patches can be yellow, reddish, or brown.
You may also notice:
- The surrounding skin has a shiny porcelain-like appearance
- You can see blood vessels
- The skin is itchy and painful
- The skin disease goes through cycles where it is active, inactive, and then active again
The medical name for this condition is necrobiosis lipodica.
- Get tested for diabetes, if you have not been diagnosed.
- Work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
- See a dermatologist about your skin. Necorbiosis lipodica is harmless, but it can lead to complications.
2. Darker area of skin that feels like velvet
A dark patch of velvety skin on the back of your neck, armpit, groin, or elsewhere could mean that you have too much insulin in your blood. This is often a sign of prediabetes.The medical name for this skin condition is acanthosis nigricans.
Acanthosis Nigricans (AN)
Often causing darker skin in the creases of the neck, AN may be the first sign that someone has diabetes.
- Get tested for diabetes
3. Hard, thickening skin
When this develops on the fingers, toes, or both, the medical name for this condition is digital sclerosis.
On the hands, you’ll notice tight, waxy skin on the backs of your hands. The fingers can become stiff and difficult to move. If diabetes has been poorly controlled for years, it can feel like you have pebbles in your fingertips.Hard, thick, and swollen-looking skin can spread, appearing on the forearms and upper arms. It can also develop on the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Sometimes, the thickening skin spreads to the face, shoulders, and chest.In rare cases, the skin over the knees, ankles, or elbows also thickens, making it difficult to straighten your leg, point your foot, or bend your arm. Wherever it appears, the thickened skin often has the texture of an orange peel.This skin problem usually develops in people who have complications due to diabetes or diabetes that is difficult to treat.
- Tell your doctor about the thickening skin. Getting better control of your diabetes can bring relief.
- You may also need physical therapy. When the thickening skin develops on a finger, toe, or other area with joints, physical therapy can help you keep your ability to bend and straighten the joint.
It’s rare, but people with diabetes can see blisters suddenly appear on their skin. You may see a large blister, a group of blisters, or both. The blisters tend to form on the hands, feet, legs, or forearms and look like the blisters that appear after a serious burn. Unlike the blisters that develop after a burn, these blisters are not painful.
Large blisters like this one can form on the skin of people who have diabetes.
The medical name for this condition is bullosis diabetricorum. Sometimes, it’s called diabetic bullae.
- Tell your doctor about the blisters. You’ll want to take steps to prevent an infection.
- Talk with your doctor about how to better control your diabetes.
5. Skin infections
People who have diabetes tend to get skin infections. If you have a skin infection, you’ll notice one or more of the following:
- Hot, swollen skin that is painful
- An itchy rash and sometimes tiny blisters, dry scaly skin, or a white discharge that looks like cottage cheese
A skin infection can occur on any area of your body, including between your toes, around one or more of your nails, and on your scalp.
Has it been a year or longer since your last period, and do you get several yeast infections each year? It’s possible that you have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
- Get immediate treatment for the infection.
- Tell your doctor if you have frequent skin infections. You could have undiagnosed diabetes.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you may need better control of it.