Skin Conditions Due to Diabetes

Some people with diabetes may experience minor skin conditions. These conditions may be annoying, but most of them are not harmful to your health. By testing and injecting often to keep your blood glucose within target, you can also help to prevent skin problems.

Diabetes-related skin conditions include:

Dry skin. High blood glucose increases fluid loss, which dries out the skin. Dry skin can crack, allowing bacteria and germs to enter and cause infections.

Thickening of the skin, especially of the hands, due to changes in skin collagen. There is no clinical importance to this, other than its association with diabetes.

Yellowing of the nails, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. This is believed to occur because sugar molecules in the bloodstream attach to proteins. This yellowing is not a health concern.

Facial blush, redness around the nails and brown spots on legs. These are caused by thickened capillary walls and increased 'viscosity' (coagulation) of the blood.

Yeast infections. These tend to occur in moist areas where skin touches skin, such as the space between the fingers or the genital area.

Fungal infections under the nails. The nails become yellow and thicker. They may also crack. This type of infection needs to be treated with medication prescribed by your doctor.

 Smart Tips for Avoiding Skin Problems

  • Keep your blood sugar in your target zone

  • Wash with mild soaps and shampoos, and rinse and dry your entire body thoroughly

  • Use talcum powder in armpit and groin areas

  • Do not take very hot baths or showers

  • Moisturize your skin daily

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your skin hydrated

  • Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water; use antibiotic ointment only if your doctor recommends it. See your doctor immediately for any major cuts or burns.

  • Do not use feminine hygiene sprays

  • Check your feet daily


The BD Diabetes Learning Center describes the causes of diabetes, its symptoms, and diabetes complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. This site contains detailed information about blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection and safe sharps disposal. Interactive quizzes, educational literature downloads and animated demonstrations help to teach diabetes care skills.

Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

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