Diabetics tend to experience irritated skin more frequently as compared to people who are free from such conditions. Constant irritation may be painful and can bring about too much scratching, which may result in infection, uneasiness, as well as pain. Skin irritation is commonly a sign of diabetic polyneuropathy (a condition that develops when diabetes gives rise to nerve damage). Diabetes causes itchy skin. Diabetics must not overlook itchy skin. Dry, irritated, or prickly skin is more expected to become infected, and diabetics may fail to fight off infections as effectively as people who do not suffer from the condition. You can read about the reasons why a diabetic experiences itching and you can also have an idea about the tips that offer relief.
Can diabetes make you feel itchy?
Diabetes may lead to areas of itching and may result in certain areas of localized itching. There are many reasons why a diabetic can experience more frequent itching than others. At times, irritation may be caused due to damaged nerve fibers present in the external layers of skin.
The reason behind diabetes itching is diabetic polyneuropathy or which can also be referred to as peripheral neuropathy. These are diabetes-related complications that develop when high blood sugar levels lead to damage of nerve fibers, chiefly in the feet and hands. Just as the nerve damage begins to happen in diabetics, raised levels of cytokines to start circulating in the body. These cytokines are inflammatory substances that may cause itching.
Studies propose that raised levels of cytokines may finally have an association with diabetic nerve damage. At times, continuous tingling can indicate that an individual having diabetes is at risk of nerve damage when their cytokines get increased. Most of the individuals also experience irritation as a sign after neuropathy develops. Thus, it’s always a good idea to take medical help if the itching becomes persistent.
Also, diabetics can experience complications, like kidney or liver damage, which may also bring about itching. Few diabetics can develop itchy skin as an ill effect of a new drug or may suffer from a hypersensitive reaction to it. On the other hand, an individual must not avoid consuming their drug until confirming with their physician that they have experienced a hypersensitive reaction. The concerned physician might suggest a replacement drug.
Also, individuals can experience diabetes itching because of poor circulation. In such circumstances, irritation is more liable to happen lower down in the legs.
Skin products consisting of dyes, perfumes, as well as strong soaps may lead to dryness of the skin, giving rise to itchiness. The skin may also turn dry or become sensitive in the winter season.
Is itching a symptom of diabetes? Diabetes mellitus itchy skin signs may differ and depends on the cause. For instance, if an individual suffers from peripheral neuropathy, he or she is more likely to experience itching on the lower parts of the legs. Also, a loss of sensation can be seen, generally in the feet or hands. A prickly feeling can also be seen as a part of these symptoms. Individuals with particular skin conditions or infections would itch at the site of the spot or lesion.
The association between diabetes and itchy skin
Can too much sugar make you itch? Diabetes may make the body lose excess fluid via urination or evaporation through the skin. This brings about dry, itchy skin that may be troublesome and at times uneasy. Itching, particularly in the lower legs or feet, may also result due to poor circulation, which commonly occurs in diabetes. Few individuals experience a skin reaction to their anti-diabetics or insulin injections.
Moreover, itching may result due to diabetes complications like kidney or nerve damage, and any liver disease. Several medicines for other health issues common in diabetics like medicines for hypertension or high cholesterol may increase the itching of the skin as well. Scientists suspect that people with type 2 diabetes might be susceptible to itchy skin (also, some skin infections) for another cause: functioning of skin’s barrier damages.
Diabetic skin conditions
At times, an underlying skin problem may result in diabetes itching. Diabetics may get hold of several skin conditions and infections more easily as compared to individuals who do not have diabetes.
Examples of such skin conditions can be:
- Fungal infection: Fungal infections like jock itch (red, an irritable region on the genitals and inside of the thighs), athlete’s foot (has an effect on the skin between the toes), or ringworm (ring-shaped, flaking patches that may itch or blister and arise on the groin, feet, nails, chest, scalp, or stomach) may lead to itching. Also, skin turns red, hot, or inflamed. At times, tiny blisters may develop and a liquid discharge can be produced. The yeast-like fungus named, Candida albicans is frequently accountable for such infections. Females are more expected to get this in their vaginas. Also, individuals tend to get Candida albicans on the corners of their mouths. It is similar to tiny cuts and is also named “angular cheilitis.” Another fungal infection, Onychomycosis occurs on the fingernails and toenails and is found to be more prevalent among diabetics. It may bring about discoloration, thickening, and parting from the nail bed.
- Bacterial infections: Staphylococcus skin problems most commonly and more severely occurs in individuals with poorly controlled diabetes. When there is an irritation in the hair follicles, these bacteria may result in boils or a swollen bump.
- Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD): It is a rare skin problem that characteristically develops on the lower legs, even though it may also have an impact on other body parts. NLD begins as a dull, red spot with an elevated surface and then turning into a scar-like abrasion with a dark border. It may also result in pain and itching.
- Eruptive xanthomatosis: This condition most commonly occurs in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Here, yellow lesions are formed on the skin that is about the size of a peanut. This condition gets triggered due to high cholesterol and fat levels. The spots frequently crop up on the legs, feet, hands, arms, as well as buttocks. Every bump presents a red ring around it and may result in itching.
- Pruritus: It can have many causes, like poor blood flow, dry skin, or a yeast infection. When poor blood flow brings about itching, a person will likely feel it in his or her lower legs and feet. A good lotion may be a great help in keeping the skin moist and soft and avoiding itching owing to dry skin.
- Other infections: Styes (infections of the eyelid glands), and nail infections.
- Acanthosis nigricans: In this condition, a dark patch of velvety skin appears on the areas like the armpit, back of the neck, or groin. This indicates that the person has an excess of insulin in his or her blood (dark patches on the skin due to diabetes). Frequently, this is a sign of prediabetes.
- Vitiligo: This problem has an effect on skin color. It’s more prevalent in people with type 1 diabetes. In this skin condition, the cells that make the substance that gives your skin color, melanin, get damaged.
- Shin spots (diabetic dermopathy): This skin problem leads to spots (or lines) on the skin producing a visible depression in the skin. This problem commonly occurs in people with diabetes. It appears on the shins, trunk, arms, thighs, or other body parts. The spots are mostly brown and no signs accompany this condition.
How to get rid of diabetes rash? Some skincare routine tips for people with diabetes
- Taking lukewarm showers as hot baths dries out the skin. This is just another great diabetes itchy feet relief.
- A diabetic must manage his or her glucose levels carefully and prevent them from becoming too high.
- Applying a gentle moisturizer after drying well the body after a bath or shower. On the other hand, a diabetic must not use lotion between the toes, as this may interact with moisture to attract damaging fungi.
- Avoiding moisturizers containing harsh perfumes or dyes. Search for a product whose label states that the lotion is “gentle” or “hypoallergenic.”
- Avoid scratching as it can produce openings on the body that may let in bacteria.
- Washing minor cuts immediately with mild soap and water.
- Practicing good foot care. It’s good to examine feet on a daily basis, and to look for any cuts, blisters, or sores.
- Incorporating certain lifestyle changes can also aid in decreasing skin symptoms. These may involve the consumption of a best diabetic diet.
Your dermatologist can help in diabetes itching skin treatment
Any person having diabetes who tries home remedies to manage itchiness but notices no improvement after 2 weeks or so, must discuss the problem with his or her doctor about other options.
While every person has itchy skin some moment or the other, for diabetics, itchy skin may be a sign of poor diabetes control as well as potential nerve damage. A physician may examine regions of dry or patchy skin to determine if diabetes or an underlying skin condition is the real reason behind the issue.
Want another purpose to control your glucose levels and manage them that way? Following such tips may help you avoid a number of diabetes skin problems. Prompt treatment of skin conditions is significant when a person has diabetes. It’s important to visit a dermatologist if there are some signs of an infection. A bacterial infection may give rise to pain, redness, inflammation, and oozing. Fungal infections characteristically itch, the skin may become red, scaly, swollen, or erupted. If any person develops severe itching, it’s mandatory to visit a dermatologist or diabetes doctor at once. It could indicate that the diabetes treatment plan isn’t functioning.