Diabetes and itching skin
QUESTION: I have heard that diabetics have itching skin problems. Both of my parents are diabetics, but until now they do not have any itching symptoms.
But I wanted to know how to recognize these diabetes symptoms itching in time to alleviate my parents suffering. Is it something only related to skin or other parts are also involved? Thank you. ANSWER
: Hi there,
You have to know that people with diabetes are having a lot of problems with their skin. However, these problems are observed only when they are not controlling their blood sugar well.
Under good control of blood sugar, I mean that the dose of insulin is not enough to cover their needs or the number of the insulin injections per day is low.The most common skin problem, which is characterized by itching, is the skin infection. These infections are caused by bacteria, which are normally living on the skin.
If the patient is healthy and he/she is not having problems with high blood glucose, these bactera are no leading to troubles.
However, some metabolic changes in the organism are leading to an elevation of the certain substances, like glucose in this case, which is helping the bacteria to grow and the multiply faster and more often.
As you probably know, when the blood glucose is not controlled well, there is an elevation in the blood glucose amount. This elevation is a general one, and in a few days, the elevated amount of glucose is going inside the cell, including the cell of the skin.
When the bacteria, which are
living on the skin, find that there is enough glucose for them to grow and multiply, they are causing infection.
These infections can be caused by a lot of bacteria and they are characterized by erythema and itchy skin. Furthermore, an infection like this can be developed almost everywhere on the human body.
But the most probable part is the legs. The explanation of this fact is related with the obstruction of the blood vessels of the legs, cause by the elevated amount of the blood glucose and cholesterol level.
This obstruction is stopping the immune cells to go in the affected area and to kill the bacteria which are causing this problem.
You have to know that these conditions are observed in the advanced stages of diabetes, especially in patients who are not managing their diabetes well.
As I mentioned before, these infections are observed when there is a persistent elevation in the blood glucose level. This elevation is causing not only skin problems but others like kidney problems, problems with the eye and heart.
If your parents are treating their diabetes well, by controlling the blood glucose level, they won’t develop condition like this.
Although such infections can be treated easily with antibiotics, changes in the kidneys, eyes and heart are very dangerous.
Hope it helped! All the best!
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Written by Dr.Albana Greca Sejdini, Md, MMedSc
Medically reviewed by Dr.Ruden Cakoni, MD, Endocrinologist