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The One Simple Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Health

Diabetes is an exhausting disease to manage. It’s time consuming, expensive, and it takes its toll on your body. Between pricking your finger, and watching everything you eat, it can be easy to overlook some of the more basic elements of disease management. However, the oversight can lead to some unfortunate complications, like skin problems. At some point, more than one third of people with diabetes will develop some form of skin condition. In some cases, for people who are unaware of the disease, skin problems can be their body displaying signs of diabetes.

Itchy Back

While anyone can develop skin trouble, people with diabetes are more prone to the skin problems that are nuisances to everyone. Additionally, there are skin complications that occur solely in people with diabetes. Here are some of the more common problems people with diabetes encounter:

Itching

  • Itching can be caused by dry skin or poor circulation. This commonly happens in the lower half of the legs.
  • Fungal Infections

  • These infections typically occur within the folds of the skin where moisture and warmth create a cozy home for fungus; most commonly, Candida albicans. These generally present as itchy rashes, sometimes surrounded by blisters. Examples: ringworm and jock itch
  • Bacterial Infections

  • Poor blood flow and excess blood sugar cause people with diabetes to be especially prone to bacterial infections in the skin. Infected areas are often red, swollen, and painful. Examples: styes, boils, and carbuncles
  • Acanthosis Nigricans

  • Usually occurring in people who are overweight, Acanthosis Nigricans presents as brown raised patches, and is most commonly found near the armpits, neck, and groin.
  • Digital Sclerosis

  • Nearly one-third of people with Type 1 diabetes will encounter this problem, which involves joint stiffness, and the development of waxy, thick skin on the back of the hands (and occasionally toes and forehead, as well).
  • Diabetic Dermopathy

  • These light brown scaly patches occur mostly on the front of the legs, and are caused by alterations in the blood vessels caused by diabetes. They are often mistaken for age spots.
  • Eruptive Xanthomatosis

  • These small bumps, which may itch, often appear when diabetes is not kept under control. They present as firm, yellow growths, with a red circle around each, most often appearing on the feet, arms, buttocks, and hands.
  • Disseminated Granuloma Annulare

  • These rashes typically form in the shape of a ring or arc. They are raised, and red or tan in color.
  • Diabetic Blisters (Bullosis Diabeticorum)

  • Less common than the previous issues, and most often occurring in people with diabetic neuropathy, these blisters look similar to burn blisters, and are typically found on the hands, feet, legs, and forearms.
  • What can you do?

    Soapy Hands

    Well, there’s good news. Most of these problems are easily treatable when caught in the early stages. There’s also a lot you can do to prevent these uncomfortable (and sometimes painful) problems:

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  • Manage your blood glucose level.
  • Make it a habit to examine your feet daily for sores and cuts. This will allow you to catch the first signs of potential complications.
  • Avoid exposing your feet to prolonged exposure to water.
  • When showering or bathing, use a mild soap.
  • Avoid very hot water when showering or bathing. Instead, opt for lukewarm to prevent drying your skin.
  • Pat yourself dry, rather than rubbing, to prevent irritation.
  • Once completely dry, examine your body for redness that could be the onset of infection.
  • Keep your skin moisturized throughout the day with a gentle lotion. However, you should avoid applying lotion between your toes.
  • Wear sunblock with SPF 30 or higher every day.
  • Consider getting a humidifier for colder months when you’re running your heater, which dries out your skin.
  • Treat cuts immediately to prevent infection, and if you don’t see improvement in the area, consult your physician.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure to maintain good circulation, which keeps skin looking and feeling healthy.
  • Make sure your doctor inspects your feet during your two physicals each year.
  • Medianet DBS
    L.D. and her eleven-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids earlier this year, and are currently enjoying exploring their new city! She likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.