Skin Problems Caused by Diabetes: How to Prevent it!

diabetes skin problem

Diabetes affects every part of your body, especially your skin. Often, skin problems are the first sign of diabetes. Also, if you have diabetes, you’re prone to skin issues more than others. You might also suffer from skin ailments that are uncommon among non-diabetic people.

Here are Some Skin Issues You May Face if You Have Diabetes:

  • If you’re diabetic, you are prone to bacterial infections as compared to others. Some bacteria can infest your eyes, hair follicles, nails and other parts of the skin, causing severe skin problems. 
  • You might easily develop fungal infections in skin folds such as under your breasts, armpits, in the corners of the mouth and between fingers and toes. 
  • Infections like jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and vaginal infection might affect you and cause severe itching. 
  • Skin irritation and itching are common in people with diabetes. Yeast infection, dry skin, and poor blood circulation easily affect the lower parts of your legs if you’re diabetic.
  • Skin problems strike diabetic people who are overweight. Tan or brown raised areas can appear on the sides of your neck, armpits and groin. Sometimes they also occur on hands, elbows and knees.
  • You may notice light brown, scaly patches on the front of both legs. Luckily, these patches do not hurt, open up, or itch.
  • Sometimes you may even develop skin allergies like rashes and bumps due to diabetes-related pills or insulin administration. You should consult a dermatologist if you think you are having an allergic reaction to certain medicines.
  • Rarely, some of you may develop blisters on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet and sometimes on legs or forearms. The only treatment for blisters is to bring blood sugar levels under control.
  • Sometimes, people with diabetes develop tight, thick, waxy skin on the backs of their hands. The skin on the toes and forehead also becomes thick. It happens to about 1/3rd of people who have type 1 diabetes. Again, the only treatment is to control and manage the blood sugar levels. 

Skincare Tips for People With Diabetes

The most vital aspect to avoid/prevent various diabetic skin issues is to keep diabetes under control. Manage your glucose levels, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and take your medications on time. Apart from these, follow the given below tips: 

  • Keeping your blood sugar in a normal range makes it easier to handle and prevent several skin issues.
  • Awareness regarding your body is essential, especially if you are suffering from neuropathy or diabetic nerve damage. You may be unable to feel any cut, pain, scratch etc. Therefore, it is crucial to check your body (areas like leg, feet, ankle and in between toes) every day.
  • Avoid very hot baths and showers as this may dry your skin. Always apply moisturiser immediately after a bath to prevent dryness and itching. 
  • To ensure your skin stays healthy and soft, drink plenty of water. 
  • Also, keep your skin clean, get rid of extra moisture as it encourages fungus to grow.

People with diabetes can develop sensitive skin over time. Hence, switch to mild and fragrance-free products to stay away from infections and irritation.

  • Apply moisturisers and sunscreens every day to get rid of dryness and protect your skin. Other than this, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. 
  • Treat any cuts right away with an antibiotic cream or ointment under proper guidance. See a doctor right away if you notice a cut, burn, infection or if it doesn’t heal. 


Summing Up 

Diabetes can lead to various skin issues, but many of them are harmless. However, it is important to notice and be aware of your body. With people who have diabetes, even a minor issue can turn into something severe. Hence, it’s necessary to be cautious. If you notice any change in your body or anything that worries you, see a dermatologist immediately.


1. How to choose skincare products for people with diabetes?

If you are a diabetic, stick to a limited number of products that are necessary. Choose skincare products that are mild and do not have any fragrance. You can also seek help from a dermatologist regarding the right skincare products. 

2. Is there something called a diabetic lotion?

No, there is nothing specific that is termed as a diabetic lotion medically.

3. Is it good to use coconut oil for dry skin in people with diabetes?

There is no evidence that coconut oil is good for a person who has diabetes. Before trying anything new on your skin, discuss it with your doctor.  

4. Does diabetes cause skin darkening?

It can lead to skin darkening in diabetic patients, especially those who are obese or overweight. The skin folds appear dark, which is supposedly due to insulin resistance.

Get a Customised Skin Care Routine from a Dermatologist for your Diabetic Health Conditions



Picture of Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.