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Signs Of Diabetes On Skin

What Does A Diabetes Rash Look Like

10 Alarming Skin Signs of Diabetes

Diabetes rashes look different depending on the type and cause.

Some diabetes rashes only affect people with diabetes. They usually go away when blood sugar is managed. These rashes include:

  • Blisters : Painless blisters may form on the backs of hands and feet and on the legs and forearms. This rare condition most often affects people who have diabetes-related neuropathy.
  • Diabetes-related dermopathy: Light-brown, round-shaped scaly patches, like age spots, appear on the shins. These harmless spots dont need treatment.
  • Digital sclerosis: Some people with Type 1 diabetes develop hardened, thick, waxy skin on the backs of their hands. The finger joints stiffen, making movement difficult. A related rash is scleredema adultorum of Bushke which is tightness, thickening, and hardening of the back, neck, shoulders and face. There are various treatments that dermatologists can provide for this.
  • Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum : This lower leg rash is more common in women. NLD causes raised, red, shiny patches with a yellow center. Blood vessels may be more noticeable. The rash may be itchy and painful. You should see a dermatologist for treatment options.
  • Diabetes Foot Syndrome: These are ulcers that develop from trauma to the skin. The ulcers can take a long time to heal and there is an increased risk for infection.

Other conditions can affect anyone, but are particularly common among people with diabetes. These rash-causing conditions can also be a warning sign of pre-diabetes:

Diabetes And Skin Problems: Know About Diabetic Skin Disorder Causes Types Prevention


When a person is diabetic, skin problems can be the initial symptom indicating the same. Diabetes has an impact on almost every body part, including the skin. Many diabetics experience a skin problem caused or tormented by diabetes at some time. Most common examples of these conditions may involve itching, fungal or bacterial infections. On the other hand, diabetics are more prone to complications such as diabetic dermopathy, eruptive xanthomatosis, necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, and many others. Read further to know more about diabetes and skin problems associated with it and does diabetes causes skin infections.

Outbreak Of Small Reddish

When these bumps appear, they often look like pimples. Unlike pimples, they soon develop a yellowish color. Youll usually find these bumps on the buttocks, thighs, crooks of the elbows, or backs of the knees. They can form anywhere though.


These bumps appear suddenly and clear promptly when diabetes is well-controlled.

When these bumps appear, they often look like pimples. Unlike pimples, they soon develop a yellowish color. Youll usually find these bumps on the buttocks, thighs, crooks of the elbows, or backs of the knees. They can form anywhere though. No matter where they form, they are usually tender and itchy. The medical name for this skin condition is eruptive xanthomatosis.

Take action
  • Tell your doctor about the bumps because this skin condition appears when you have uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to better control your diabetes.

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A Cut That Is Slow To Heal

If you get a cut or scrape that seems to be taking forever to heal, diabetes may be the culprit. The extra sugar in your blood when youre diabetic is known to slow wound healing, leaving you vulnerable to infection, Guido says.

For that reason, surgeons often require patients to undergo diabetes testing before they have surgery, and that can lead to a diabetes diagnosis, Guido says.

Its not uncommon for an older adult who needs knee surgery to end up finding out they have diabetes through the pre-op screening, he says.

Care And Maintenance Are Key

diabetic rash picture

Working together with a trusted Orlando physician is a surefire way to stay on top of both types of diabetes. As you move through various phases of life, its likely that your personal experience with diabetes will also change. Working with a physician who is familiar with your medical history, your preferences and your lifestyle habits can help them make better-informed decisions regarding your care.

Use UCF Healths patient portal to find a doctor near you. Our easy-to-use online scheduling tool makes it simple to get in and see your physician whenever you need.

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Patches Of Yellowish Skin Around The Eyes

Xanthelasma is patches of yellow plaques around the eyes and eyelids.

It might be a sign that you have too many lipids or fats circulating in your blood, and could be one of the diabetes symptoms.

This is a good sign as any to cut back on fats and to start eating healthily. Get active and get some exercise every day.

These yellow patches could be very visible on your face. Thankfully, there are ways to have them removed.

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Dark Velvety Tanned Skin

This condition is called Acanthosis Nigricans. It causes dark, velvety, tanned, areas of skin. the thickened and hyperpigmented skin is one of the first signs of diabetes in a person. The patches of grey, black, brown skin which feel velvety to touch can occur in neck, armpits, groin, hands, elbows and knees.

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Diabetes And Your Skin

If you notice any unusual changes in your skin, it’s important to see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing serious complications.

Did you know that diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your skin? In fact, skin changes are one of the most common signs of diabetes. Learn about the signs of diabetes that can appear on your skin.

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. Its packed with nerves and blood vessels that allow us to sense touch, temperature, pain, and pressure. Diabetes can affect the nerves and blood vessels in your body, including those in your skin. Changes in your skin can be a sign that something is going on beneath the surface.

When diabetes affects your skin, its often a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high over time. Some skin changes can appear even before youve been diagnosed with diabetes. Others could be a sign that your diabetes treatment needs to be adjusted. Either way, youll want to make an appointment with a doctor to be screened for diabetes or to talk about adjusting your treatment. They can help you prevent serious complications with your skin and other parts of your body.

Keep reading to learn about 9 skin conditions that can occur with diabetes and what you can do to treat or prevent them.

Having To Pee More Often Or More Urgently Is A Red Flag


Another classic indicator of diabetes in more frequent urination.

What counts as “frequent” can vary it might be as many as 20 trips to the bathroom in a day for some people, but could also be much more subtle, according to El Sayed.

“If you typically go 2 or 3 times a day, and are suddenly going 8 times a day, that may be a problem,” she said.

Increased urgency, or an inability to make it to the bathroom in time, is another warning sign.

“If you find yourself restricting the amount of water you drink, that’s not good,” El Sayed said.

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Causes Of Diabetic Skin Conditions

  • Chronic diabetes type 2 with hyperglycemia is expected to be linked to poor blood circulation. This decreases the blood flow to the skin. In addition, it can result in damaged nerves and blood vessels. Also, when there are raised sugar levels, it leads to a reduction in the ability of the WBCs to resist infections.
  • When blood circulation reduces, alterations in the skins collagen can be seen. This alters the texture, exterior, and healing power of the skin.
  • A reduction in sensation can be seen when a patient suffers from diabetic neuropathy. This can make the skin more susceptible to wounds that may not be visible and later on can be felt.

Dark Velvety Patches Of Skin

Check the mirror for dark brown patches of skin on your neck, armpits, chest, or groin. These patches may also feel velvety to the touch.

This skin condition is called acanthosis nigricans and is linked to conditions that involve insulin resistance. And this may be a marker for type 2 diabetes.

It is also common among people that are overweight or obese.

There is no cure, but you may improve the appearance by addressing the cause and improving your diet. In the meantime, your dermatologist may also have available treatments to improve the appearance.

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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. Youll 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. Its 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, youll notice one or more of the following:

Diabetic Blisters May Heal On Their Own

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Its rare, but sometimes people with diabetes erupt in blisters . The blisters occur on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet, and sometimes on the legs or forearms. These skin sores resemble burn blisters. Having diabetic neuropathy puts you at higher risk of developing these blisters. Heres the good news: They are usually painless and heal on their own in a few weeks. Keeping blood glucose under control is the only treatment for this diabetes skin problem.

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When To See A Dermatologist

Diabetes can cause many other skin problems. Most skin problems are harmless, but even a minor one can become serious in people who have diabetes. A board-certified dermatologist can recognize skin problems due to diabetes and help you manage them.

Are all dermatologists board certified?

No. See what it takes to become board certified.

ImagesImage 1: Image Courtesy of Clark C. Otley, MD. All Rights Reserved

Images 3, 7, 8, 9: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

Image 2 from DermNetNZ

Some images used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

Images 5, 6 and 10: Getty Images

ReferencesCohen Sabban, EN. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus from A to Z. Focus session presented at: 74th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology March 4-8, 2016 Washington D.C.

Duff M, Demidova O, et al. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus. Clinical Diabetes. 2015 33:40-8.

Kalus AA, Chien AJ, et al. Diabetes mellitus and other endocrine disorders. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:1461-70.

McKinley-Grant L, Warnick M, et al. Cutaneous manifestations of systemic disease. In: Kelly AP and Taylor S. Dermatology for Skin of Color. . The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. China, 2009:481-4.

Skin Signs Of Diabetes

1. Dark areas

Too much insulin in the body can lead to dark patches on the back of your neck, armpits and genital areas. This is usually a sign of prediabetes, which is medically known as acanthosis nigricans.

2. Recurrent boils

So, diabetes does not directly cause boils! Changes in our blood glucose levels can make us more susceptible to infections, which can take longer to heal. These boils may appear suddenly when blood sugar levels are high, and they may settle down if our blood sugar levels are under control.

3. Hard, thickening skin

Medically known as digital sclerosis, hard and thickening skin usually develops on the fingers, toes, or both. It may start on the back of your hands, and progress to the forearms and upper arms due to uncontrolled diabetes. In some cases, it can spread to the chest, shoulders and face.

4. Skin tags

Have you been noticing small growths which are of the same colour as your skin? A lot of people with high levels of blood sugar or type-2 diabetes tend to have skin tags. They are non-cancerous growths that look like a cluster of skin tissue hanging from a stalk. They are also known as acrochordons.

5. Delayed wound healing

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Disseminated Granuloma Annulare Causes Skin Itching

This skin problem causes raised, bumpy, or ring-shaped spots that are skin colored, red, or red-brown. Disseminated granuloma annulare most often occurs on the fingers and ears. Some people report mild itching. Typically, medical treatment is not needed because the rash usually disappears on its own without leaving scars. But ask your doctor if a topical steroid, like hydrocortisone, could improve your skin problems.

Apart From Usual Diabetes Symptoms Like Frequent Urination Feeling Very Hungry Thirsty Weight Loss Numb Hands Or Feet There Are Several Signs Of The Disease That One Can Spot On Skin

Doctor explains 12 SKIN CONDITIONS associated with DIABETES

Parmita Uniyal

With each passing day, each one of us is more at risk of diabetes than a couple of years back. No longer the disease of elderly, diabetes is being diagnosed in children, teens, young people – basically people of any and every age. Diabetes cases are rising across the globe and as per estimates, India has 77 million diabetics which is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045. As our modern lifestyle allows us little time for physical activity and preparing healthy and nutritious food at home, this could be a deadly combination for development of diabetes which needs life-long management and puts us at grave risk of life-threatening complications related to kidney, heart disease, nerve diseases and oral health, to name a few.

Diagnosing the disease early on and starting medication while introducing lifestyle changes is the key to tackle diabetes. Apart from the usual symptoms like frequent urination, feeling very hungry, feeling thirsty, losing weight, numb hands or feet there are several signs that one can spot in skin.

If you are having certain skin issues or diseases, chances are they might be the result of uncontrolled sugar levels.

Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics opens up about diabetic skin conditions and their common symptoms that one should be aware of:

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Signs Of Diabetes On Skin

Diabetes can affect any part of the body and skin is one of them. Around 60% of diabetic patients have some kind of skin problem. Unfortunately, the majority of patients present quite late and by then, their symptoms will have worsened. In some patients, the manifestation of a skin disorder is the first sign in diagnosing diabetes. Skin conditions may also heal slowly if the patients blood glucose is not under control.

The underlying mechanisms for skin problems include raised blood glucose and glucose end products, blockage in the small blood vessels, nerve damage and low immunity of the patient.

Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes symptoms often take several years to develop. Some people dont notice any symptoms at all. Type 2 diabetes usually starts when youre an adult, though more and more children and teens are developing it. Because symptoms are hard to spot, its important to know the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Make sure to visit your doctor if you have any of them.

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How Can I Prevent Diabetes

The best thing you can do to prevent skin problems is to keep blood sugar levels within the range recommended by your healthcare provider. Proper skin care can lower your chances of getting a skin rash, infection or wound thats difficult to heal.

Take these steps to prevent skin problems:

  • Check your skin daily for signs of rashes, redness, infections or sores.
  • Use warm water and moisturizing soap in the shower.
  • Pat skin dry with a towel , making sure to dry in between fingers, toes and skin folds.
  • Apply fragrance-free moisturizers after showering while skin is still damp and soft. Look for creams and ointments with ceramide to help skin retain moisture.
  • Apply creams containing 10% to 25% urea to cracked, dry heels at bedtime.
  • Prevent dehydration and keep skin hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Treat cuts and wounds immediately with soap and water. Use antibiotic ointments only if your healthcare provider gives the OK. Bandage the wound daily. Call your provider if you notice signs of redness, pain, drainage or infection.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

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Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

Necrobiosis Lipoidica: Yellow Red Or Brown Patches On The Skin

Diabetes Symptoms Skin Rash

Initially, small raised solid bumps appear on the skin just like pimples. These can also be called diabetes bumps. With progression, these bumps become patches of rough and inflamed skin. The appearance of such rough, reddish, and inflamed patches on legs is a condition called necrobiosis lipoidica.

Also, the person can notice:

  • A shiny porcelain-like appearance on the surrounding skin
  • Skin turning painful and itchy


  • Get the sugar levels tested if any person has not been diagnosed.
  • Discuss with the doctor about the way to better control the ailment.
  • Check with a dermatologist about the skin. Necrobiosis lipodica is risk-free, but it might cause complications.

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