10 Warning signs of diabetes that appear on your skin
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the body does not properly regulate the sugar in the blood. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into sugars, including glucose. Glucose is moved by the bloodstream to the cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas, is responsible for transporting glucose from the blood into the cells. People suffering from diabetes either do not make enough insulin, or their body does not properly respond to insulin, resulting in chronically high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes can affect anyone, from any walk of life. The numbers of people affected by diabetes is dramatically increasing. Worldwide, it affects more than 415 million people. And the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, that number of people living with diabetes will more than double.
Today, diabetes takes more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined – It is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke.
Different types of diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, caused by different things, but they are both serious and need to be treated and managed properly.
Type 1 Diabetes
The body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production completely from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy. Symptoms usually occur during early childhood, or young adulthood and episodes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) are common. This type of diabetes cannot be prevented or cured.
Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t able to use insulin correctly. This is called insulin resistance. As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency. This is most commonly diagnosed during adulthood and can be prevented with a healthy, active lifestyle.
Skin conditions linked to diabetes
Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your skin. When diabetes affects the skin, it’s often a sign that your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Which could mean that you have undiagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes or that your treatment for diabetes needs to be adjusted
If you notice any of the following warning signs on your skin, it may be time to consult with your doctor.
This skin disease causes the skin on the back of the neck and upper back to harden and thicken. It is rare and mostly affects people with type 2 diabetes. It is most common in middle-aged, obese males with uncontrolled diabetes. To effectively reverse this symptom of diabetes, one would have to lower their blood sugar levels. This can be done through exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet and regularly monitoring your sugar levels with an at home diabetic kit. A topical balm such as moisturising body balm may also help to soften the skin.
This is more commonly known as shin spots, and is a skin lesion characterised by dull-looking red papules, which may progress into atrophic hyperpigmented skin lesions, usually on the shins. The patches do not hurt, but can be itchy or cause burning. This condition develops as a result of changes to the blood vessels that supply the skin. Treatment of this is usually not necessary.
Disseminated granuloma annulare:
This is a skin condition which causes rashes which are sharply defined and form ring shaped areas on the skin. It commonly occurs on the fingers, ears, chest and abdomen. The rash will vary in colour from brown to red to skin coloured. Medical treatment is usually not required.
There are several bacterial infections which can affect the skin. Bacterial skin infections are most commonly caused by bacteria known as Staphylococcus. A bacterial skin infection is more common and more serious in people with uncontrolled diabetes. This bacteria can result in a “boil”, an inflamed nodule from a hair follicle, which can occur in areas where hair follicles can be irritated. Other infections include styes, which is an infection of the glands of the eyelids, and bacterial nail infections. Most bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics but can also be treated naturally. Propolis Balm has natural anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties, making it suitable to reduce such symptoms.
People suffering from diabetes are more susceptible to fungal infections. Candida albicans is responsible for many of the fungal infections affecting people with diabetes. Women in particular are prone to infection with this fungus in the vagina. Other common areas of infection include what is known as “angular cheilitis”, which feels like small cuts on the corners of the mouth. Fungus may also occur between the toes and fingers and in the nails. This fungus creates itchy, bright red rashes, often surrounded by tiny blisters and scales. These infections most often occur in warm, moist folds of the skin.
Three common fungal infections are: jock itch (red, itchy area in the groin, on the genitals and the inside of the thighs), athlete’s foot (affects the skin between the toes), and ringworm (ring-shaped, scaly patches that can itch or blister and appear on the feet, groin, chest and abdomen, scalp or nails). One can treat these fungal infections naturally by using products which contain propolis and tea tree, both of which are known for their powerful anti-fungal properties. Ultra Bee’s Athletes Foot Balm and Ringworm Balm are both great natural alternatives for treating fungal infections.
Itchy skin can have many causes, such as yeast infection, lack of moisture or even poor blood flow and circulation. Itching skin due to poor blood flow most commonly affects the lower limbs and it is important to exercise to increase the blood flow in these areas. Try brisk walking for at least 30 minutes daily.
This is a condition in which the skin cells that that are responsible for producing the brown pigment in your skin are destroyed, leading to irregular, blotchy patches that often occur on the hands, face, or chest. Although the cause of vitiligo is unknown, researchers believe it may be linked to an autoimmune condition like type 1 diabetes. There’s no cure for vitiligo, but light therapy and steroids are used to manage the condition. If you suffer from vitiligo, it’s important to wear a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, since depigmented skin has no natural sun protection. Consider using a natural sunscreen such as Ultra Bee’s Sunscreen 35.
Neuropathy-Related Skin Problems:
A common diabetes symptom may include nerve damage. Sometimes the damage causes a loss of sensation in the feet. If you step on something and injure your foot or develop a blister, you might not be able to feel it due to the poor blood flow. An open sore or foot ulcer can develop and could get infected. It is important to examine your feet every day to make sure they are not injured in any way. If you do notice a sore developing, it is important to sterilise the area and ensure it is treated properly, as it may develop into something more serious. For an effective natural treatment of these ulcers, try Ultra Bee’s Diabetic Sore Balm
This appears on the skin as firm, yellow, pea-like skin growths. The bumps have a red ring around them and may itch. They’re usually found on the backs of hands, feet, arms, and buttocks. This skin problem usually strikes young men with high cholesterol and very high content of fat in the blood. Treatment of this involves a combination of diet and exercise to lower cholesterol and fat content in the blood.
This disorder causes the skin in body folds and creases to become dark, thick, and velvety. It is most common in the neck, armpit, inner thighs and places with excessive fat, such as the abdomen and back. This skin problem usually develops in people who are very overweight. There’s no cure, but losing weight may improve the skin’s appearance. If you have the condition and haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, talk to your doctor as it usually appears before diabetes strikes.