What You Should Know About Diabetes and Your Skin


Whether you have just been diagnosed or you have been dealing with it for years, diabetes is a disease that can dramatically change your day-to-day life. One way that the disease can impact your body is in your skin. There are a number of changes to your skin that are caused by diabetes. These changes can also be telltale signs of the disease. 

If you are suffering from any of the skin conditions listed below, consult with your doctor to see if you have diabetes and get started on a treatment plan.  

What is Diabetes? 

Simply put, diabetes is a health condition that affects how your body uses or makes insulin. When you eat food, it is broken down into glucose and then sent into your blood stream to be distributed to the cells of your body. As your blood sugar rises, your pancreas will release a hormone called insulin, which helps the glucose enter the cells of the body. 

If you have diabetes, your body does not effectively use insulin or it does not make enough to manage the glucose. Too much sugar stays in your blood and can cause very serious health issues. There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed by leading a healthy lifestyle and following the advice of your doctors.  

There are many possible symptoms of diabetes, including: 

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger 
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness in hands or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Sores that heal slowly 
  • Dry skin 
  • Increased infections 

There are three types of diabetes:

Type 1: Type 1 is less common than type 2 diabetes. It occurs when the body stops making insulin. It is typically seen in children and young adults. Those suffering from type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin daily in order to manage their condition. 

Type 2: Type 2 is a much more common form of diabetes that is usually seen in adults. In this form of diabetes, your body does not efficiently use the insulin that it makes. As a result, it has difficulty managing your blood sugar levels. 

Gestational: This form of diabetes occurs in pregnant women who did not previously have the disease. Gestational diabetes can impact the health outcomes of the baby, so it is something that pregnant women are regularly monitored for. 

Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Skin 

Diabetes can affect your body in many ways, including your skin. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it could be a warning sign that you have diabetes or that your diabetes is not being managed properly. 

Infected skin. People with diabetes are prone to skin infections. Infections can frequently occur on your toes, fingers and scalp, but may be found anywhere on the body. Signs of an infection can include itchy rashes, hot and swollen skin or white discharge. 

A dark patch that feels like velvet. A sign of too much insulin, acanthosis nigricans typically appears on the neck, but can also be seen on the armpits or groin. This is commonly one of the first signs of diabetes.   

Yellow, red or brown patches. A condition called necrobiosis lipoidica is commonly seen in people with diabetes. It initially looks like pimples and then turns into hard, swollen skin. Other symptoms related to this condition include visible blood vessels and porcelain-looking skin. 

Open sores. Diabetics tend to have poor circulation and may experience nerve damage. Poor blood flow can make wounds take a long time to heal and increase the risk of infection. 

A dark spot or line on your shin. Many diabetics experience something known as diabetic dermopathy, more commonly called shin spots. Shin spots are usually brown in color and can display as a spot or line on the shin, but can also show up on other parts of the body. 

Atlanta Dermatologist for Diabetes Related Skin Conditions 

Diabetes is a serious condition that must be managed under the care of a doctor. If left unchecked, it can have devastating consequences. Diabetics can experience a variety of skin problems that should be treated by a board-certified dermatologist. 

If you are experiencing any of the skin issues described above, contact the Atlanta dermatology office of Buckhead Dermatology to schedule an appointment. Our dermatologist can work with your medical team to ensure that your skin conditions are handled with care.