Can Diabetes Affect Your Skin? What Warning Signs on the Skin You Need to Look Out?

September 15, 2022

When you have diabetes, your life will never remain the same. Apart from lifestyle changes, you also need to pay close attention to what you’re eating and drinking. This is because diabetes is capable of affecting other parts of the body. Diabetes can cause different types of mild or severe health complications such as stroke, heart damage, kidney damage, nerve damage, etc. 

However, do you know that diabetes can also cause different types of skin complications or skin diseases? When you notice signs and symptoms of diabetes on your skin, it’s a clear indication that the blood glucose or blood sugar level of your body is higher than normal. It could imply that either you’re suffering from pre-diabetes or your diabetes treatment solutions need to be adjusted. Here are the different skin issues that can be caused by diabetes. 

Reddish, Yellow, or Brown Patches on Your Skin 

Sometimes you will notice red and small bumps on your skin that might look like pimples. If you don’t address this issue, the bumps will progress into hard, swollen skin. The patches can be brown, reddish, or yellow. 

You might also notice that the surrounding skin of the pimples is developing a shiny appearance. You will start noticing the blood vessels, and your skin will become super painful and itchy. In such situations, make sure you get tested for diabetes. If you want to know more about health conditions, make sure you read our guide to diabetes

Darker Skin Area 

This is one of the most common skin issues diabetes can cause. The severity of this skin issue is dependent on the melanin level of the skin. You will start noticing signs of dark patches on your armpit, neck, and other parts of your body. This will indicate that your body has a higher level of insulin in the blood. 

When you notice the growth of darker skin on different parts of your body, make sure you visit a doctor, as this is the first indication of type-1 diabetes. When you get tested for diabetes quickly, you will be able to implement counter measurements. 

Thickening and Hard Skin

The medical name of this skin issue is known as digital sclerosis, and this condition develops on the toes, fingers, or both. 

You will start noticing waxy and tight skin on the outer parts of your hands. The fingers will not only become stiff, but you will also face problems moving them. If you haven’t paid close attention to diabetes remedies for years, you will experience pebbles at your fingertips. As per WebMD, most skin rashes are not life-threatening

Thick, hard, and swollen skin will start appearing and spreading on the upper arms as well as forearms. The issue can also develop on your neck, shoulders, and upper back. The thickening skin can sometimes spread to your shoulders, face, and chest. 

In some rare cases, the symptoms of diabetes can become so severe that the ankles, knees, and elbows will also thicken. 


These are the skin issues that can be caused by diabetes. Do you have any other questions? Make sure you let us know by commenting below. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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