Is Your Skin Warning You About Diabetes?


Diabetes is a lifelong disorder in which the body’s glucose levels are beyond average (high blood sugar). The disease affects many parts of the body simultaneously, and the most clear symptoms manifest on the surface of the skin.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it is time to talk with a healthcare provider.

  1. Bacterial Infections

Everyone is prone to bacterial skin infections, but they are more common in people with diabetes. Fungal infections, eyelid styes, boils, and carbuncles are only some of the many infections affecting the skin of diabetics. In most cases, the surrounding area is red, painful, and swollen.

  1. Necrobiosis Lipoidica

Necrobiosis lipoidica is a condition that resembles the appearance of pimples. As they progress, these small bumps turn into patches of swollen and hard skin, which can take many colors but often emerge as yellow, reddish, or brown. Someone with this condition may notice a polished, porcelain-like appearance in the surrounding skin. Other signs of necrobiosis lipoidica include itchy, painful skin and increased visibility of blood vessels.

This disease goes through cycles where it is active, inactive, and then active again.

  1. Open Sores and Wounds

Having high levels of blood sugar for prolonged periods can lead to poor circulation and nerve damage, making it difficult for the body to heal wounds. This is particularly true on the feet, which medical scientists refer to as diabetic ulcers.

  1. Itchy Skin

From insect bites to eczema, crawling skin can have several causes. In people with diabetes, a case of poor blood circulation, dry skin, or yeast infection is a potential root cause and side effect of high glucose levels.

  1. Eruptive Xanthomatosis

Labile or brittle diabetes is a severe form of diabetes. It causes unpredictable fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which may lead to eruptive xanthomatosis — firm, yellow, pea-like skin masses. Each of these bumps has a red halo around them, often causing an itchy sensation. Eruptive xanthomatosis is common on the backs of hands, arms, feet, and buttocks. This diabetes-induced skin problem usually affects young men with high cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in the blood).

  1. Diabetic Dermopathy

This skin condition manifests in spots (and sometimes lines) on the skin. It is common in diabetics and is almost always exclusive to the shin. In rare cases, diabetic dermopathy appears on the surface of the arms, thighs, trunk, and other areas of the body. The spots are usually brown and cause no symptoms.



According to the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation, diabetes is a leading cause of many life-threatening ailments, including kidney failure and stroke. Living with the disorder places an immense emotional, physical, and financial burden on the entire family of those affected. Each year, diabetes costs the American public more than $245 billion.

If you suspect diabetes and have not received a diagnosis, get tested as soon as possible. Working with a doctor will help you learn about controlling your disease through several methods, including proper diet, exercise, and medications. In addition, consulting a dermatologist about any diabetes skin problems is a must, as some do not look too dangerous but could lead to future complications without treatment.