If you suffer from diabetes, the risk of experiencing skin issues increases significantly. When blood sugar levels are excessively high, it can lead to problems with various functions and organs, including the skin. Many diabetics only realize that they have the condition once they start facing skin problems.

According to the CDC, 10.5% of Americans are living with diabetes. This number is expected to rise to 33% (or 1 in 3 people) by the year 2050. Blood sugar levels in people with diabetes are excessively high. This could be due to a lack of insulin or the production of ineffective insulin. An estimated one-third of people with diabetes suffer from skin problems that are a direct result of the disease. While using medication to address skin problems can help, controlling blood sugar is typically the most effective strategy to prevent and address diabetes-related skin problems.

Skin Health and Diabetes

When your body suffers from extremely high blood sugar levels for a long time, it experiences various changes that impair skin health. Due to a lack of insulin, their bodies fail to reabsorb excess glucose in the bloodstream. As a result, excess glucose is excreted, so the person urinates more often. This can cause dry skin and dehydration.

High blood sugar levels also cause inflammation, which has an impact on the skin. In addition, poor circulation in diabetes can harm nerves and cause blood vessel injury. It affects the skin’s structure, particularly its collagen. Consequently, skin can become rigid and, in certain situations, fragile, without strong collagen networks, which are essential for wound healing.

Most diabetes-related skin problems are minor issues. But in some cases, the symptoms are unpleasant and long-lasting, making medical intervention necessary. In the long term, proper blood sugar control is the most effective therapy option for many diabetes-related skin problems. However, a doctor may recommend oral steroids, medicated creams, or other therapies in severe situations that require immediate attention.

Man Checking Blood Glucose Levels

Here are some of the skin complications that can occur because of diabetes:

Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is a black ring of thickened, velvety skin that runs from the pelvis to the back of the neck and armpits. While diabetes is a major cause, it can also be the result of hormonal imbalance or the use of certain drugs, including niacin, corticosteroids, and birth control pills.

Acanthosis nigricans affects up to 74% of people who are overweight or diabetic. Although it is not dangerous or contagious, a doctor can provide treatment recommendations. Patients can benefit by managing their blood glucose levels and body mass index (BMI).

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD)

NLD is long-term but a rare condition that affects diabetics by causing a rash on their skin. According to studies, it impacts 0.3% of people with diabetes, more than half of whom use insulin.

Small and stiff, raised lumps frequently develop into bigger plaques of waxy, hard, depressed, and yellow to reddish-brown skin. Plaques are usually painless, and the skin around them appears pale.

Over time, lesions grow waxy and have a purple border. NLD, while generally mild, can result in problems such as scarring, and infection is more likely as well. Meanwhile, ulceration can develop in around 15% of cases.

Doctors can prescribe both topical and oral medicines to help in treating NLD. But if symptoms worsen, the patient’s treatment plan may need to be changed. Due to the risk of infection, the person should protect the skin from additional harm.

Skin Tags

Skin tags, also known as acrochordons, are little, flesh-colored growths that cling to the skin’s surface. They afflict around 25% of the general population. In diabetic patients, they occur as a result of excessive blood sugar levels.

Usually, skin tags appear on the eyelids, underarms, neck, beneath the breasts, and in the pelvic creases.

Skin Tags on a Mans Neck

Closed up the Skin Tags or Acrochordon on neck man on white background.


A person suffering from xanthelasma has yellow fat and scaly deposits near and on the eyelids. They can appear on the neck, trunk, shoulders, and underarms, among other places.

High blood sugar and fat levels in the body can cause xanthelasma, but it can also affect people who don’t have these conditions. In some circumstances, it could be due to a hereditary predisposition for developing xanthelasma and excessive cholesterol. Factors like diabetes, obesity, and pregnancy increase the risk of a patient developing the condition.

Xanthelasma is not a health hazard, but it can harm a person’s quality of life. Lipid-lowering medications may be effective, according to some small studies. Researchers are continuously exploring aesthetic treatments, such as laser therapy or a chemical peel. These treatments may help, but there is no specific treatment to get rid of xanthelasma permanently.

Diabetic Ulcers

A major complaint among diabetics is that little injuries turn into diabetic ulcers or open sores. There is a higher risk of developing diabetic ulcers in the feet than in any other part of the body.

Let’s say a person gets a cut on their foot due to uncomfortable shoes. Since diabetes causes problems in the circulatory and nervous systems, they won’t be able to feel it on their foot. As they’re unaware of the injury, the damage exacerbates. Furthermore, a lack of blood flow makes wound healing more difficult.

To summarize, ulcers form when you leave the wounds untreated. If the wound develops an infection, tissue death is possible, and in severe cases, amputation may be necessary. Because it only takes a minor cut for a diabetic ulcer to form, doctors urge their diabetic patients to check their feet and other parts of their bodies for any sores.

Diabetic Ulcers


Psoriasis patients frequently develop red, itchy, and scaly areas on their skin. Some people also suffer from changes in the texture of their nails or scalp. Some patients with skin psoriasis can even develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes significant joint pain.

In mild cases, some of the options to treat psoriasis include lifestyle adjustments, corticosteroid creams, and ointments, blood sugar, and body weight management. In moderate to severe instances, oral or injectable biologic drugs are suitable options as well.

Psoriasis is more common in people with type 2 diabetes than in people without diabetes.