For individuals suffering from diabetes, skin complications are extremely common. Diabetic dermopathy is the most common of the diabetes skin complication with nearly 30% of all patients suffering from it. Diabetic dermopathy occurs mostly on the shins, though it is possible to have it all over the body, and is characterized by brown or reddish, rounds spots, and scaly patches on the skin. Associated with retinopathy (retinal damage), diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), and nephropathy (kidney damage), the actual cause of dermopathy is unknown though it is more prevalent among long-term sufferers (10-20 years) of diabetes. It is also thought be related to injury or trauma in the areas that it appears. Patients with dermopathy have also been shown to have higher levels of glycosylated haemoglobin, a form of haemoglobin that is formed in the presence of plasma glucose. Because of this relationship, glycosylated haemoglobin is used to measure long-term blood glucose, with elevated levels signifying long periods of poorly regulated blood sugar. Hence, long-term management of glucose levels is crucial in prevention of dermopathy. While dermopathy itself is harmless, due to its relationship with neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy, it is best to see your doctor if you develop any symptoms related with the other disorders.


Athersclerosis and Diabetes Skin Complications


Athersclerosis is another condition associated with diabetes. Also common in patients with heart disease, athersclerosis is the thickening of the arteries and smaller blood vessels. In diabetics, increased blood sugar levels narrow blood vessels, creating circulation problems to the skin. Areas of skin with decreased blood flow tend to be thin, cool, hairless, and shiny. During physical activity the muscles without proper oxygenation become sore and painful. Reduced circulation also leaves the skin more susceptible to infection such as ulcers, as a lack of blood interferes with healing. Additionally, numbness can occur leading to further complications. In the event of infection, individuals suffering from neuropathy and athersclerosis have reduced feeling and numbness, which can lead them to ignore the early indications, resulting even in gangrene. For this reason, diabetics should thoroughly inspect their feet and legs regularly to look for signs of infection.


Reducing Risk of Diabetes Skin Complications

Both dermopathy and athersclerosis are associated with high blood glucose levels. In order to manage levels a healthy diet is important. The Mayo Clinic recommends focusing on whole grains, legumes, fruit, fibrous foods, omega-3 fatty acids, lean protein, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. To promote circulation to the lower limbs, prop feet and legs while resting and avoid standing in a single position for a long period of time. Further, do not smoke. Smoking can damage blood vessels, further reducing circulation.