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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes and Your Skin

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Want another reason to get your blood sugar levels under control and keep them that way? Doing so can help you avoid many diabetes skin problems.

Still, skin conditions related to this disease are common. As many as 1 out of 3 people with diabetes will have one.  Fortunately, most can be or successfully treated before they turn into a serious problem. The key is to catch them early.

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Common Skin Conditions Linked to Diabetes

Itching skin, also called pruritus, can have many causes, such as dry skin, poor blood flow, or a yeast infection. When itching is caused by poor blood flow, you’ll likely feel it in your lower legs and feet. Lotion can help to keep your skin soft and moist, and prevent itching due to dry skin.

Bacterial infections: Staphylococcus skin infections are more common and more serious in people with poorly controlled diabetes. When hair follicles are irritated, these bacteria can cause boils or an inflamed bump.

Other infections include:

  • Styes, which are infections of the eyelid glands
  • Nail infections

Most bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotic pills. Talk with your doctor.

Fungal infections: Warm, moist folds of the skin are the perfect breeding ground for these infections.

Three common fungal infections are:

  • Jock itch (red, itchy area on the genitals and the inside of the thighs)
  • Athlete's foot (affects the skin between the toes)
  • Ringworm (ring-shaped, scaly patches that can itch or blister and appear on the feet, groin, chest, stomach, scalp, or nails).

A yeast-like fungus called "Candida albicans" causes many of the fungal infections that happen to people with diabetes. Women are likely to get this in their vaginas.

People also tend to get this infection on the corners of their mouth. It feels like small cuts and is called "angular cheilitis."

Onychomycosis is another fungus. It grows in between the toes and fingers, and in the nails. It causes itchy, bright-red rashes. They are often surrounded by tiny blisters, pus bumps, and scales.

Medicines that kill fungus -- called antifungals -- are usually needed to treat these infections. Talk with your doctor about the right ones to use.

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