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Diabetic Skin Problems to Watch Out For

Updated on April 19, 2016

For anyone living with diabetes, you already know the challenges you face. Sadly, a common side effect to Diabetes is skincare issues like itching, bacterial infections, blisters, and more. It is important to stay on top of diabetic skin issues like these, and ensure you know how to prevent and treat them. Here at Dr. Hess, we take diabetic skin care very seriously and want to provide you with some tips on how to identify and treat any future problems you may encounter.

There are multiple diabetic skin conditions you need to watch out for. These include Acanthosis Nigricans, Diabetic Blisters, Digital Sclerosis, Eruptive Xanthomatosis, Scleroderma Diabeticorum, Vitiligo, atherosclerosis, Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum, Diabetic Dermopathy, and Disseminated Granuloma Annulare. Now, don’t lose me here! I know these terms are very technical but we will walk through each one and its symptoms.

Acanthosis Nigricans

This condition is marked by raised tan or brown spots that appear on the sides of the groin, armpits, or neck, as well as the knees, hands, and elbows. These tend to occur in those that are overweight, and the American Diabetes Association says the best treatment is weight loss. The spots can be treated with a cream to help them look better.

Diabetic Blisters

These blisters are rare, but if they do occur they will be found on the backs of legs, forearms, feet, hands, toes, and fingers. Those most susceptible are those with diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). The blisters are painless and usually heal within 3 weeks. The main treatment is to keep your blood sugar levels to a healthy level.

Visit a doctor if you notice certain conditions
Visit a doctor if you notice certain conditions

Digital Sclerosis

This skin issue occurs most commonly amongst those with type 1 diabetes. It presents itself as a tight, thick, waxy-feeling skin on the back of hands, as well as toes, and the forehead. Joints such as fingers, knees, ankles, and elbows will get stiff. Some may get so stiff they cannot move. The only treatment currently is to keep blood sugar levels in check.

Eruptive Xanthomatosis

This condition is most likely to occur among younger men with type 1 diabetes who have high levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood. They occur as hard, yellow, pea-sized bumps and may have a red ring around them that itches. It can occur on the backs of feet, hands, arms, legs, and the rear end. The bumps will disappear as long as your diabetes is under control.

Scleredema Diabeticorum

This is a rare issue that usually affects those with type 2 diabetes. It is the thickening of the skin on the back of the neck and upper back. There is no cure except to keep your blood sugar levels in check, though you can use lotions (a little cow mentioned that Dr. Hess has coupons and promotions on their site!) to soften the skin.


Those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are most susceptible to vitiligo. This issue occurs because cells that create pigment in the skin are destroyed, leaving discolored patches. The areas most affected are the chest and abdomen, but can also occur on the face. Treatment for this includes topical steroids. It is important if you have vitiligo you must use sunscreen to prevent sunburns on the discolored areas.

For more information or to order your Dr. Hess Diabetic skin products online, visit Be sure and sign up for our Yes To Hess! Club and receive promotions, specials. You might even be asked to be part of our market research club.

Written by MARKIT Group, a proud member of the Dr. Hess herd.


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