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Diabetes and Your Skin

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Skin Conditions Linked to Diabetes continued...

Rashes, Bumps, and Blisters

  • Diabetic blisters (bullous 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 usually are 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 colored. Treatment usually is not required, but sometimes a topical steroid medication, such as hydrocortisone, may help.

Bacterial and fungus infections

  • Bacterial infections: There are different kinds of bacterial infections affecting the skin. Skin infections with the bacteria known as Staphylococcus are more common and more serious in people with poorly controlled diabetes. These bacteria can result in boils, an inflamed nodule from a hair follicle that can occur in areas where hair follicles are irritated. Other infections include styes, which are infections of the glands of the eyelids, and bacterial nail infections. Most bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics in the form of pills.
  • Fungal infections: A yeast-like fungus called "Candida albicans" is responsible for many of the fungal infections affecting people with diabetes. Women in particular are prone to infection with this fungus in the vagina. Other commonly seen areas of infection include the corners of the mouth with what is known as "angular cheilitis," which feels like small cuts on the corners of the mouth. Fungus also can occur in between the toes and fingers and in the nails (onychomycosis). This fungus creates itchy, bright red rashes, often surrounded by tiny blisters, pus bumps, and scales. These infections most often occur in warm, moist folds of the skin. 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), and ringworm (ring-shaped, scaly patches that can itch or blister and appear on the feet, groin, chest and abdomen, scalp, or nails). Medicines that kill the fungus are usually needed to treat these infections. A potentially fatal fungal infection with Mucormycosis is seen in people with diabetes. The infection usually starts in the nasal cavities and can spread to the eyes and brain.

Skin problems with multiple causes

  • Itching: Itching skin, also called pruritus, can have many causes, such as a yeast infection, dry skin or poor blood flow. When itching is caused by poor blood flow, the lower legs and feet are most often affected. Using lotion can help to keep your skin soft and moist, and prevent itching due to dry skin.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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