It is estimated that 1/3 of diabetics will have a diabetes-related skin disorder at some time in their lives.

Below are some of these conditions:

Acanthosis Nigricans. A slowly progressing skin condition, which turns some areas of skin, usually in the folds or creases (neck and underarms), into dark, thick and velvet-textured skin. Acanthosis nigricans may precede the diagnosis of Type II Diabetes or be an indicator of at risk individuals. It is felt to be triggered by increased insulin levels and is often associated with obesity. There is no treatment for the condition except to treat the underlying increased insulin/diabetes. Topical agents or laser treatments may help lighten the affected area.

Diabetic Blisters. Rare blisters that appear on the hands, toes, feet or forearms that are thought to be caused by diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage).

Diabetic Dermopathy. Round, brown or purple scaly patches that most frequently appear on the front of the lower legs (most often the shins) and look like age spots. They are caused by changes in small blood vessels. Diabetic dermopathy occurs more often in people who have suffered from diabetes for decades. They are harmless, requiring no medical intervention, but they are chronic.

Digital Sclerosis. This condition appears as thick, waxy and tight skin on toes, fingers and hands, which can cause stiffness in the digits. Getting blood glucose levels back to normal helps alleviate this skin condition.

Disseminated Granuloma Annulare. This is a controversial association and some experts disagree about its association with diabetes. It is characterized by red or reddish-brown bumps that often are grouped and form rings on the skin, usually on the fingers, toes or ears. While not serious, it is chronic and can be cosmetically troubling.

Eruptive Xanthomatosis. Small red to yellowish bumps that can be widely disseminated on the trunk and extremities. It most frequently appears on the hands, feet, arms, legs or buttocks. Patients normally have high triglycerides (a portion of cholesterol) and often have diabetes. Maintaining normal blood glucose levels along with lowering triglycerides are keys to treatment.

Infections. Diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections due to improper skin barrier function and poorer circulation. Maintaining clean, moisturized, healthy skin is key to prevention and infections should be treated early to prevent serious consequences.

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD). This condition is similar to diabetic dermopathy, but the spots are larger, fewer, deeper in the skin and have a shiny porcelain-like appearance. It may be itchy or painful and the skin may ulcerate. It is caused by changes in collagen and fat underneath the skin. Although most patients with NLD have diabetes, the majority of diabetics never get NLD. Topical or injected steroids are used to treat NLD, although the condition may be difficult to manage and systemic therapies may be required.

 Ulcerations: Ulceration is one of the most serious skin complication of diabetes. The lower legs and feet are most susceptible to ulceration due to decreased blood flow and diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage due to increase blood glucose over time). Patients with neuropathy can have decreased sensation or even be numb and therefore cannot feel pain. Lack of pain keeps patients from detecting minor injuries resulting from ill-fitting shoes or an injury. Over time, these minor wounds can deepen and widen into ulcers and potentially become infected. Without early and proper treatment, serious consequences such as soft tissue gangrene, bone infections and/or amputation can result.