Diabetes and Skin Problems

As many as one out of every three people with diabetes develop skin disorders, even if they maintain tight glucose control. Diabetic dermopathy, which is caused by changes in small blood vessels, is the most common diabetes-related skin problem. Also called shin spots, diabetic dermopathy appears as reddish-brown, scaly lesions about half an inch in diameter that typically occur on the front of both legs. They don't hurt, open up, or itch, and they don't need to be treated.

People with diabetes are also more susceptible to bacterial skin infections, such as styes on the eyelids and boils in hair follicles, which can be treated with antibiotics. They also have more fungal and yeast infections, including vaginal yeast infections in women, jock itch in men, athlete's foot, and ringworm. Most fungal infections require drug treatment.

Dry Winter Skin

If you have diabetes, you may be prone to dry skin. Try these tips, from our sister publication Diabetes Focus Winter 2014, for staying soft:

  • Wash with warm water: Hot baths and showers are tempting (especially in winter), but hot water can strip skin of its natural oils. Opt for warm water, and limit showers and soaks to five to 10 minutes.
  • Lavish on the lotion: Replenish moisture after bathing with a lotion or cream containing olive oil, jojoba oil or shea butter—all of which have super-softening powers.
  • Help your hands: Cold winter weather often means low humidity and brisk winds, and your hands feel it first. Reduce raw, cracked skin by wearing gloves every time you go out.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Written by: Christopher D. Saudek, M.D.; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 22 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 22 Dec 2014