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What is Diabetic Dermopathy?

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Diabetic Dermopathy is a condition which is also known as Diabetic Skin Disease. The skin condition usually presents with light brown or tan or reddish to pink, round or oval, somewhat scaly patches mostly appearing on the lower legs or shins. These lesions may be present in areas of trauma or injury in non-diabetic patients also. This skin disorder is also known as pre-tibial pigmented patches or shin spots. Approximately thirty percent of diabetics will experience skin conditions. The most common skin disorder is probably the diabetic ulcer.

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What is the etiology of Diabetic Dermopathy?
The exact cause is unknown. It is most likely that the skin becomes injured by direct trauma or heat or cold injuries. This area of the shin does not usually have a great deal of fat to absorb direct trauma. With injury there is cutaneous and subcutaneous bleeding. Within the blood is glycosolated hemoglobin. This is hemoglobin that is saturated with glucose. This is not normal hemoglobin. This hemoglobin also contains iron. These damaged cells deposit there damaged hemoglobin and iron into the skin. Simply put, the body can't repair and remove the damaged tissue. This creates the discolored, damaged Diabetic Dermopathy. Lesions can also be found on the sides of the feet, thighs and trunk. The greater the number of lesions the more suspicious one should be on diabetes especially in the undiagnosed person.

What are risk factors?

1. The duration of ones diabetes with longer being more likely to develop the condition.
2. The more poorly controlled ones diabetes is the more likely Diabetic Dermopathy will develop.

Does Diabetic Dermopathy need to be treated?

These lesions and this Dermopathy are relatively benign. Sometimes the condition improves on its own. Tight glucose control should be maintained, this may help. Topic medications to lighten the discoloration or soften and lubricate the skin may be beneficial.

Dr. Thomas Buividas,
Archer Foot and Ankle Clinic,
4554 S. Archer Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60632.

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