Did you know your skin can tell you if your diabetes is under good control or not? 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 (glucose) levels are too high, which may mean you have:
• Undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes
• Your treatment for diabetes needs to be adjusted
Look for these warning signs:
Yellow, reddish or brown patches on your skin. This often begins as small raised solid bumps that look like pimples. As it progresses, these bumps turn into patches of swollen and hard skin. It can be itchy and painful. This is most commonly on pretibial skin. This condition is called Necrobiosis Lipoidica.
Darker area of skin that feels like velvet. These are found on your neck, groin or elsewhere and are a sign of insulin resistance. The medical name for this skin condition is Acanthosis Nigricans.
Hard, thickening skin. This usually develops on the fingers, toes or both. 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 uncontrolled for years, it can feel like you have pebbles in your fingertips.
Blisters. It’s rare, but people with diabetes can see blisters suddenly appear on their skin. You may also see a large blister, a group of blisters or both. They tend to form on hands, feet, legs or forearms. These blisters are not painful. This is called Bullosis Diabetricorum, or sometimes known as diabetic bullae.
Skin Infections. People who have diabetes can be at greater risk for skin infection, especially if their diabetes is uncontrolled. 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. 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
Open sores and wounds. Having high blood sugar (glucose) for a long time can lead to poor circulation and nerve damage. You may have developed these if you have had uncontrolled (or poorly controlled) diabetes for a long time. Poor circulation and nerve damage can make it hard for your body to heal wounds. This is especially true on the feet. These open wounds are called diabetic ulcers.
Skin tags. Many people have skin tags that hang from a stalk. While harmless, having numerous skin tags may be a sign of insulin resistance and being more prone to develop type 2 diabetes. They commonly occur on the eyelids, neck, armpit and groin.
Yellowish scaly patches on and around your eyelids. These develop when you have high fat levels in your blood. It can also be a sign that your diabetes is poorly controlled. The medical name for this condition is Xanthelasma.
If you have any of the above conditions, please see your primary care physician. You may need to be tested for diabetes or if you already have diabetes work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
Our certified diabetes educators can help you manage your diabetes with a wide range of support services. Learn more about Diabetes Education Services by calling 440-354-1622.