Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Diabetes and Your Skin

Less-Common Conditions continued...

Digital sclerosis: Due to poor blood flow, the skin on your toes, fingers, and hands becomes thick, waxy, and tight. It can also make your finger joints stiff.  Get your blood sugar under control, because that can help treat this condition. Try lotions and moisturizers to help soften the skin.

When you have issues with your heart or blood vessels:

  • Atherosclerosis: This is the narrowing of blood vessels. They become narrower as the vessel walls get thick from plaque buildup. That can affect blood supply to your skin. When the blood vessels that bring oxygen to the skin become narrow, changes can happen, such as hair loss and thinning, shiny skin (especially on the shins), thickened and discolored toenails, and cold skin. Because blood carries the white blood cells that help fight infection, your legs and feet can heal more slowly when they are injured.
  • Eruptive xanthomatosis: Severe insulin resistance can make it hard for your body to get rid of fat in your blood. When you have very high cholesterol, this skin condition can happen. Firm, yellow, waxy pea-like bumps on the skin are surrounded by red halos and are itchy. These usually show up on the eyes, elbows, face, and buttocks. They also can appear on the back side of the arms and legs. To treat it, your doctor will work to control the level of fats in your blood. The bumps usually go away over several weeks. You might also need drugs that control different types of fats in the blood (lipid-lowering drugs).

Uncommon Conditions

Diabetes-related blisters (bullous diabeticorum): In rare cases, people with diabetes get blisters that resemble burn blisters. These can affect the fingers, hands, toes, feet, legs, or forearms. They're usually painless and they heal on their own. They often happen in people who have severe diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. For treatment, your doctor will help you get your blood sugar levels under control.

Disseminated granuloma annulare: This condition causes sharply defined ring- or arc-shaped areas on the skin. These rashes most often happen on the fingers and ears, but they can appear on the chest and abdomen, too. The rash can be red, red-brown, or skin-colored. Treatment usually isn't needed, but sometimes a steroid medication you put on your skin, such as hydrocortisone, can help.

Scleredema diabeticorum: This condition causes a thickening of the skin on the back of the neck and upper back. It's rare, but it can affect people with type 2 diabetes. The treatment is to bring your blood sugar levels under control. Lotions and moisturizers might help soften your skin.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on December 27, 2014
1 | 2 | 3

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

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.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Article
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article