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Common skin conditions for people with type 2 diabetes

People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing skin problems, or from complications of skin problems that have not been spotted soon enough, often because of reduced skin sensation.

Most skin conditions can be prevented and successfully treated if caught early. However, if not cared for properly, a minor skin condition in a person with diabetes can turn into a serious problem with potentially severe consequences.

Skin conditions linked to diabetes

  • Scleroderma diabeticorum: This condition causes a thickening of the skin on the back of the neck and upper back. This condition is rare but can affect people with type 2 diabetes. The treatment involves bringing your blood glucose level under control. Lotions and moisturisers may help soften the skin.
  • Diabetic dermopathy: Also called shin spots, this condition develops as a result of changes to the blood vessels that supply the skin. Dermopathy appears as a shiny round or oval lesion of thin skin over the front lower parts of the lower legs. The patches do not hurt, although rarely they can be itchy or cause burning. Treatment is usually not necessary.
  • Diabetic blisters (bullosis diabeticorum): In rare cases, people with diabetes develop blisters that resemble burn blisters. These blisters can occur on the fingers, hands, toes, feet, legs or forearms. Diabetic blisters are usually painless and heal on their own. They often occur in people who have severe diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Bringing your blood glucose level under control is the treatment for this condition.
  • Disseminated granuloma annulare: This condition causes sharply defined, ring or arc-shaped areas on the skin. These rashes most often occur on the fingers and ears, but they can occur on the chest and abdomen. The rash can be red, red-brown or skin coloured. Treatment is usually not required, but sometimes a topical steroid medication, such as hydrocortisone, may help.

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