People with Diabetes are at an increased risk of skin problems. If your blood sugar level is high, your body will lose fluid and as you lose fluid your skin may become dry.  Dry skin tends to be itchy and inflamed which may cause you to scratch, resulting in pain and potentially breaks in the skin.
For people with Diabetes, any damage to the skin entity in the form of a wound or crack needs to be attended to immediately. Having uncontrolled high blood sugar levels will contribute to feeding microbes and germs which will delay healing.
These problems commonly affect the feet, especially if you have any nerve damage. The key to preventing wounds and breaks is proper skin care. Some of the most common skin problems in people with Diabetes include fungal infections, bacterial infections, ulcers, itchiness, and dryness.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are very common in people with Diabetes and usually occur in warm and moist folds of the skin. Fungal infections that people with Diabetes experience can affect the mouth, area around the nail, and between the fingers and the toes. Some of these infections may cause itchiness.

Bacterial Infections

People with Diabetes may also experience bacterial skin infections. These infections can occur at the eyelid glands, hair follicles, and around the nails. In order to know whether you have a bacterial infection, you need to be aware of signs and symptoms which include high temperature, swelling, redness, and pain at the infected area.

If you think that you have a bacterial or fungal infection, see your doctor for diagnosis and proper management.


Diabetes can often cause localized itching. This may be due to a yeast infection, dry skin, or poor circulation. When itching is caused by poor circulation, the most affected part may be the lower parts of the legs.

Using mild soap with a moisturizer, avoiding rubbing the skin vigorously when bathing or showering as well as applying a light moisturizing skin cream after bathing can help alleviate itching. 


High blood sugar levels can cause very dry skin as the body loses fluid. Dry skin can be itchy and can also crack. Scratching of dry or itchy skin and cracks allow germs to enter and cause infection. High blood sugar also feeds germs, making infection worse. Different parts of the body can be affected, including your legs, feet, elbows, hands and/or face. This problem may also progress to all parts of the skin. Over-washing, using very hot water, exposing your skin to the cold, dry winter winds or the sun, and not moisturizing can exacerbate this problem. 

Decreased sweating in your feet and legs due to nerve damage can also cause dry skin as sweating helps keep your skin soft and moist. In addition, damage to the small blood vessels may lead to dry skin.

Keeping your skin moisturized is essential to prevent skin problems if you have Diabetes.

The following table summarizes the skin problems that affect people with Diabetes only. However, most of these are very rare.


Diabetes-related Skin Condition Description Treatment
Dermopathy of Diabetes
  • Oval or circular light brown scaly patches
  • Painless
  • Appears on the front of legs
  • Does not need a treatment as it is harmless
Necrobiosis of Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD)
  • Similar to dermopathy of Diabetes
  • Spots are large and deep, but few
  • Rare, and most commonly seen in women
  • Does not need a treatment unless the sores are open
  • Thickened blood vessels leading to low blood flow
  • Hairless, cool and shiny skin
  • Coldness in the peripheral parts (e.g. toes)
  • Pain in calf muscles during exercise
  • Slow healing of injury
  • Blood sugar and cholesterol levels should be controlled

Blisters of Diabetes (Bullosis Diabeticorum)

  • Appears on the back of hands, fingers, feet, and toes
  • Very rare
  • Painless
  • Patient should see a doctor
  • Blisters heal by themselves within three weeks
  • Blood sugar level should be controlled

Eruptive Xanthomatosis
  • Pea-like enlargements in the skin which is usually firm and yellow
  • May cause itchiness
  • Occurs often in people with Type 1 Diabetes who have high level of fats in the blood
  • Blood sugar and cholesterol levels should be controlled
Digital Sclerosis
  • Thick and tight skin on the back of the hand
  • Stiffness in finger joints leading to abnormal movement
  • Occurs in one-third of people with Type 1 Diabetes
  • Blood sugar level should be controlled
Disseminated Granuloma Annulare
  • Ring- or arc- shaped raised areas of the skin
  • These can be skin-colored, red, or red-brown
  • Patient should see a doctor
Acanthosis Nigricans
  • Brown raised areas
  • Appears on the neck, armpits, and groin
  • Occurs often in people who are overweight


  • Losing weight
  • Creams