Diabetes Affects Skin

Why Diabetes Affects skin.

Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases that share the phenotype of hyperglycemia. The metabolic changes associated with diabetes causes secondary pathophysiological changes in multiple organ systems including the skin. What that means in plain English is if diabetes itself is not enough to cope with it is often accompanied by all sorts of unwelcome skin eruptions. All medications for diabetes which control the glucose levels affect the skin, in both diabetes type I and type 2 diabetes. The most distressing effects can be seen in type I diabetes after prolonged use of insulin. That does not mean that type II diabetes sufferers get off scot free, they don’t. There is always a correlation between diabetes and the skin. It is always a matter of time before diabetes affects skin condition.
Diabetes Affects Skin Diabetes and skin eruptions.
The diabetics who managed to control their blood sugar level and do not have massive spikes of glucose tend to have fewer problems than those that don’t. Very few diabetics get off without any long or short term skin eruptions.
Diabetes affects all the organs of the body. As the skin is the largest organ it makes sense that a lot of the manifestations and complications of diabetes can be seen on the surface area of the skin.
It is important for diabetics to be aware of changes in their skin, the changes may be acne, discoloration of the skin tone or a thickening of the skin. One of the many side-effects of insulin is that it helps to maintain good skin condition.Lack of insulin in both the short and long-term means that wounds take longer to heal. Whereas a normal person may start to develop a scab an hour after a graze, a diabetic may not be so fortunate. A sugary syrupy secretion will very likely seep out of the wound and this makes it difficult for a scab to form.
Sadly this is not the only effect of reduced insulin because the open wound makes it easier for infections to get inside the body. Very often medical staff are not monitoring these cutaneous changes, so it’s important that you are aware of them yourselves. Changes in the skin can also be a warning sign that there is already a glucose intolerance. One of these indicators is dry flaky itchy skin. Another is “acanthosis nigricans” this nasty sounding skin condition doesn’t hurt. It can be seen clearly a darkening of the skin around the armpits or around the neck. So the fact that it doesn’t hurt is no comfort it can be very disfiguring.
Either of these two conditions should be taken as a warning sign. If you have either of them then it would be wise to go and ask your doctor to check your sugar levels. Acanthosis nigricans is not always linked to glucose intolerance, there are other conditions which can cause it but in the vast majority of cases the culprit is glucose, and as we have seen diabetes affects the skin.

The bacterial infection Staphylococcus is quite common when glucose levels are not stable. They usually occur around hair follicles. That means around the eyelashes which often results in styes at other times when the hair follicle becomes inflamed an eruption which resembles a boil flares up. The only control and treatment for this condition is antibiotics.
Candida albicans” is a fungal infection and it is often a precursor of diabetes. The infections are more prevalent between damp moist folds of the skin. Athlete’s foot often occurs between the toes and ringworm is a ring-shaped red patch or blister which usually appears in the groin abdomen and chest and feet. Candida albicans is also a vagina infection and can be an indication of a glucose imbalance. All of these fungal infections are unpleasant, but they can be treated. Mucormycosis is another fungal infection which is potentially fatal. It begins in the nose and then spreads to the eyes and from the eyes to the brain.
In the long term, the only real control for the skin infections is maintaining healthy glucose levels. That means being aware of what you eat and reducing your carbohydrate intake. Scaly dry skin can be caused by poor circulation and it can be helped by a topical moisturizing cream. Without taking control of your diabetes, all of the skin conditions can return.Minimize how diabetes affects the skin.

Foot care for Diabetics – The Frightening Statistics

foot care for diabetics

foot care for diabetics

Each week in England there are around 120 amputations in people with diabetes. The majority of diabetes-related amputations are caused by a “foot attack” – a foot ulcer or infection failing to heal. When people with a foot attack get rapid access for treatment by a specialist multi-disciplinary team this has been shown to promote faster healing and fewer amputations, saving money and lives. Amputation is not only devastating in its impact on the person with diabetes and their family, leading to loss of independence and livelihood, It is also expensive for the NHS.

Over £119 million is spent each year in England on diabetes-related amputations. Currently the numbers of amputations are rising from 5,700 in 2009/10 to over 6,000 in 2010/11. It is projected that there will be over 7,000 amputations in people with diabetes in England by 2014/15 if urgent action is not taken to reduce these¹. Only 50 per cent of people with diabetes who have an amputation survive for two years. The relative likelihood of death within five years following amputation is greater than for colon, prostate and breast cancer. The most shocking fact of all, however, is that most of these amputations are preventable. In areas where foot care for diabetics is in place there are fifty percent less amputations. Foot care for diabetics changes on a daily basis and diabetics have to be able to have immediate access to foot care clinics.

This is why Diabetes UK, the Society for Chiropodists and Podiatrists and NHS Diabetes are promoting the commissioning of an integrated foot care pathway through the Putting Feet First campaign. The pathway would ensure that in the event of a “foot attack”, those people with diabetes who are at increased risk of foot problems get identified and then fast-tracked to the specialist team that can expertly assess and treat them.

Last year a group of diabetes specialists met to pool their expertise and concluded rapid access to specialist assessment and treatment for all those with a foot problem would make all the difference in achieving the goal of reducing amputations by 50% over the next five years.


Improving diabetes foot care and reducing amputations saves lives and saves money. It also impacts considerably on health outcomes:

• preventing people from dying prematurely

• enhancing quality of life for people with a long-term condition

• helping people recover from episodes of ill health or injury

• ensuring a positive experience of care

• protecting people from avoidable harm.

A root cause analysis of every amputation across 13 London hospitals was conducted in April and May 2012 and examined 27 patient data sets. The results suggested a lack of integration of the pathway across primary and secondary care – only 54% of those having  a diabetologist with expertise in lower limb complications

• a surgeon with expertise in managing diabetic foot problems

• a diabetes specialist nurse

• a specialist podiatrist

• a tissue viability nurse.

There had been no improvement from the previous year.

Recommended Daily Foot care for Diabetics

Check their feet every day

Be aware of loss of sensation.

Look for changes in the shape of their foot

Get your toenails cut properly and safely

Wear shoes that are comfortable and a good fit, shoes should not rub.

Keep an eye on your blood sugar

At least once a year have your feet professionally checked

Do not try and get rid of corns yourself the plasters that remove corns are not good for diabetics and never use a knife with a blade to remove corns.

These shocking Facts illustrate  that diabetics have to be aware of basic foot care. This applies not just to type 1 diabetics who are at risk of amputations because in the long term injected insulin lodges in the extremities, ie the toes.

Even something as simple as hard skin can lead to an infection because if it is not removed the skin can crack and lead to an infection. What makes these foot care figures so appalling is the fact that it has to be cheaper for the local authorities to provide foot care for diabetics, than the surgical costs of an amputation.

For more information about diabetic complications see our other articles.

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