It’s a well-known fact that people living with diabetes may have complications with organs other than just the pancreas. And this includes their skin. With skin being the largest organ in the human body, it’s no wonder that it too can be impacted by diabetes.
While some may be relatively harmless, there are a number of conditions that you should be on the lookout for if you or a loved one is living with diabetes. This article is part 1 of a 2 part series where we look at 10 diabetic skin conditions, how to treat them, and hopefully prevent them.
Bacterial skin infections
A weakened immune system has long since been associated with diabetes. Although bacterial infections can happen to anyone, those with diabetes and weaker immune systems are more likely to contract them. Common bacterial infections include:
- Infected nails and nail beds.
- Infected or inflamed hair follicles, also known as folliculitis.
- Styes on your eyes.
It’s important to note that a bacterial skin infection can occur on any part of your body. This includes on your scalp and between your fingers and toes. Take note of red, swollen, painful, or itchy skin, or the development of a rash.
Be sure to visit a healthcare professional if you think you have a bacterial infection. Antibiotic medication is often prescribed to help clear up bacterial skin infections.
Diabetic dermopathy is also known as shin spots as the condition usually develops on the shins of diabetic patients. In some rare cases it may also be present on the limbs and torso. Diabetic dermopathy is often confused with age spots, but are caused by high sugar levels damaging blood vessels and causing discoloured patches of skin.
Symptoms of diabetic diabetic dermopathy:
- Circular or oval lesions.
- Lesions are a pink, tan, red, or brown colour.
- The lesions may also be scaly.
- Diabetic dermopathy is a bilateral condition, and so both shins will display lesions.
- When the lesions disappear, they may leave behind an indentation.
The most important aspect of treating diabetic dermopathy is to control blood sugar levels. Ensuring that your blood sugar is at a healthy level is key to keeping diabetic dermopathy under control. Diabetic dermopathy usually has no other symptoms and will fade in about 18 months.
Vitiligo presents as patches of different-coloured skin. It’s a condition that is more prevalent in type 1 diabetics, but type 2 diabetics are at risk of developing it too. With vitiligo, the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that colours skin, are destroyed. This leads to irregular patches of skin that differ in colours from the rest of the body. Often these patches develop on the hands, face, neck, stomach, and chest of individuals. While there is no cure for the condition, certain treatments like UV light therapy, steroids, and surgery may be used to manage the appearance. It’s important to wear sunscreen with SPF 30 if you suffer from vitiligo, as the affected skin has no natural protection from the sun.
As with bacterial skin infections, diabetics are more susceptible to developing a fungal skin infection. Candida albicans, a yeast-like fungus, is the most common fungus that causes these skin infections. Candida infections often cause red, itchy rashes with small blisters and patches of scaly skin.
Fungal infections often occur in warm, moist areas of the body. Some areas to watch out for are armpits, under breasts, between fingers and toes, around the groin area, and in the corners of the mouth.
Common fungal infections include the following:
- Athlete’s foot
Be sure to contact a healthcare professional if you think you may have a yeast or fungal infection.
Itchy skin is a common complaint in diabetic patients. High blood sugar levels contribute to dry skin. Likewise, this condition can be exacerbated in the presence of a skin infection or poor circulation. If this is something you are dealing with, do not shower or bathe in very hot water, and use mild soaps and shampoos. You may also want to use a moisturiser after bathing or showering.
Healthy skin management:
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent skin problems if you suffer from diabetes:
- Keep your diabetes managed. Good blood glucose levels are vital to maintaining skin health.
- Be sure to address any cuts or scrapes so that your risk of developing an infection is reduced. Clean any wounds, regardless of size, and cover them with clean gauze.
- Don’t use bubble baths if you struggle with dry skin. You may want to try out moisturising soaps and use a moisturising lotion after drying off, but be careful to not use lotion between your toes. This extra moisture can encourage fungus or yeasts to grow, as mentioned above.
- Do not scratch or pick at dry or itchy skin, as this can create an entry for microbes to get in. Use a moisturiser on your skin to prevent it from drying out.
- Be sure to visit a healthcare provider like a doctor or dermatologist if you are concerned about developing any of the above conditions.
How BluLyte Wound Care can help with diabetic skin conditions:
As previously mentioned, diabetic individuals often suffer from reduced immunity as well as reduced blood circulation, making them more susceptible to infections. Here is how BluLyte Wound Care can help you with diabetic skin conditions.
- BluLyte’s active ingredient is hypochlorous acid (HOCl). HOCl has an anti-inflammatory and soothing action, which helps to fight inflammation and bring relief to affected and inflamed skin.
- Due to the antimicrobial effect of HOCl, BluLyte Wound Care kills microbes that might be present around wounds and sores and therefore greatly reduces the chances of a diabetic individual contracting an infection.
- BluLyte Wound Care is also able to disrupt biofilms and thus minimise the risk of wounds becoming infected in this manner.
- The pH of healthy skin tends towards slightly acidic, with a pH of 4.5 – 6.5. BluLyte Wound Care is also formulated in the slightly acidic range of 4.5 – 6.5 to accommodate the skin pH. This allows for quicker healing of already irritated skin or other wounds.
- BluLyte Wound Care is non-cytotoxic and non-irritating to sensitive, healing tissues, unlike other substances like alcohol-based disinfectants and hydrogen peroxide.
- Unlike with antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents, microbes are unable to build resistance to hypochlorous acid, keeping it effective against a wide range of pathogenic microorganisms.
A client living with type 1 diabetes suffered from diabetic dermatitis on his hands, and has had fantastic results with BluLyte Wound Care.
Part 2 of this article deals with five other diabetic skin conditions, including diabetic ulcers, which you can learn about in detail here.