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Skin Problems in Diabetes

Rashes, Bumps, and Blisters

  • Rashes and bumps: Allergic reactions to foods, bug bites, and medicines can cause rashes, depressions, or bumps on the skin. It is especially important for people with diabetes to check for skin problems, such as rashes or bumps, in the areas where they inject their insulin.
  • Diabetic blisters (bullosis diabeticorum): In rare cases, people with diabetes develop skin problems, such as 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. These skin problems often occur in people who have severe diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Bringing your blood sugar level under control is the medical treatment for this health condition.
  • Disseminated granuloma annulare: This skin 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. Medical treatment usually is not required, but sometimes a topical steroid medication, such as hydrocortisone, may help.

Diabetes and Bacterial, Fungus Infections

  • Bacterial infections: There are different kinds of bacterial infections commonly affecting the skin of those with diabetes. Skin infections with the bacteria known as Staphylococcus are more common and more serious in people with diabetes which is not under control. These bacteria can result in 'boils', an inflamed nodule from a hair follicle, which can occur in areas where hair follicles can be irritated. Other infections include styes, which are infections of the glands of the eyelids, and bacterial nail infections. Most bacterial infections require medical treatment with antibiotics in the form of pills and/or creams.
  • Fungal infections : A yeast-like fungus called "Candida albicans" is responsible for many of the fungal infections causing skin problems in 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 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 rare but 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.

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