Type 2 diabetes is a condition where either the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the available insulin adequately. Diabetes can lead to a host of medical complications, including various skin diseases. Many conditions involve the skin and are unique to the person with diabetes because of the treatment and complications of the disease itself.
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Here are a few skin issues a person with diabetes can encounter:
Scleroderma diabeticorum: This is a rare skin condition, which affects many people with Type 2 diabetes. The condition leads to thickening of the skin on the upper back and back of the neck. This skin disorder can be treated by getting your blood sugar level under control. Moisturizing also helps by softening the skin.
Vitiligo: Type 2 diabetics can also have a skin condition known as Vitiligo. Although Vitiligo is part of the autoimmune aspect of Type 1 diabetes and cannot be prevented, it can also occur in Type 2 diabetics. Vitiligo leads to a discoloring of the skin. In this disease the special cells that make pigmentation in the skin are destroyed by having elevated blood sugar levels. As a result, this creates patches of discolored skin.
Vitiligo often starts in the area from the abdomen to the chest, but can also be found around the nostrils, mouth and corners of the eyes. This skin disorder can be treated with topical steroid and micropigmentation, commonly referred to as tattooing. Anyone diagnosed with Vitiligo should avoid sunburn, which can lead to a worsening of the condition.
Acanthosis nigricans: Another common skin condition of diabetes is Acanthosis nigricans. This leads to a darkening and thickening of the skin, especially in the areas where skin folds. In this condition, skin is slightly raised, tan and velvety, looking like a small wart. It can occur on the back of the neck, armpit, breasts and groin. Acanthosis nigricans occurs mainly in obese people; however losing weight can lead to worsening of this condition. There is no treatment for Acanthosis nigricans.
Although atherosclerosis is associated with the narrowing of blood vessels, this directly affects the skin also. When the oxygen supply to skin is interrupted, a number of changes can occur. This can range from:
- skin that is shiny,
- to cold skin,
- skin that becomes thin, and
- hair loss.
When blood sugar levels remain out of control, digital sclerosis can form. This affects the skin of the fingers, hands and toes. The skin develops a waxy feeling and becomes tight and thickened. While some lotions or moisturizers may help to a degree, the best treatment is to bring your sugar levels back under control.
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