Diabetes on the Skin

March 6, 2012
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As we discussed last time, several skin conditions are associated with the development of diabetes. They occur because the walls of our arteries become too thick to allow oxygen to pass and nourish the skin. Over time, the skin will weaken, get thinner, or even begin to die. Let’s discuss two common skin manifestations of diabetes.

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum is a common skin condition that occurs with diabetes . It presents as very large reddish- brown patch of skin on one or both shins. With time, it will grow in size and become yellowish and shiny in the center. If left alone, this brown patch of skin can ulcerate and become infected. As mentioned before, this condition may show up before somebody knows that they are diabetic. Unfortunately, this patch of skin does not necessarily go away once diabetes treatment has begun. However, it may alarm a person to seek evaluation by a physician.

Another skin condition associated with diabetes is Xanthoma Diabeticorum. Xanthoma refers to fat that may deposit just under the surface of the skin. They appear as unexplained little yellow bumps. In the development of diabetes, there is a phase where there is too much fat in the blood (high triglycerides). Fortunately, these bumps will
eventually go away after a couple weeks of controlling the amount of fat in the blood.

Lastly, Diabetic Dermopathy is a condition present on the feet and legs of diabetics. They look like discrete circular red bumps that may be flat or elevated. These lesions require no treatment , but will be present as long as a person is diabetic.

If you have similar changes happening on your skin, it would be wise to be evaluated by your primary care for diabetes. If diagnosed with diabetes, it is recommended to see a podiatrist every 2-3 months to avoid potentially limb threatening ulceration.

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