Diabetes: Part III – Diabetes Mellitus and Skin

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects the whole body including the body’s largest organ, the skin. However, it’s impossible to talk about skin in diabetes without talking about blood vessels. The two are closely connected.


First, however, it’s important to mention that people with diabetes are prone to skin infections. These include fungal infections, such as ringworm, and infections caused by bacteria. Often an infection that won’t go away is the first sign of diabetes and is related to having too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.


People with diabetes are at increased risk of hardening of the arteries. When this affects the large arteries, the result is often heart attack or stroke. However, the smaller blood vessels, small arteries and small veins, are affected as well. These small vessels can be found throughout the body. They can be found in the skin. Often it is the small arteries in the skin of the feet that are the first to be affected. If these small vessels become partially or completely closed off, the healthy tissue is not receiving oxygen or nourishment. It becomes unhealthy, possibly itchy, and even more prone to infection. If the healthy tissue continues to be unhealthy it will eventually die. This is called gangrene. Gangrene that can’t be controlled may result in the need for an amputation.


Smoking, not exercising, high blood pressure, being over-weight and a high fat diet all increase the risk of having problems with your arteries and your skin.


Preventing these skin problems is very important. All skin should be moisturized to prevent excessive dryness. This is important for everyone, but especially for people with diabetes. The skin of the feet in those with diabetes is most vulnerable to the effects of diabetes. Feet need to be inspected daily for injuries, such as blisters. Even a tiny cut or scrape deserves to be cleansed and protected.


As I’ve said before in a blog – Skin, take care of it. You need it


1 Response to “Diabetes: Part III – Diabetes Mellitus and Skin”

  1. 1 diabetes diplomas January 29, 2009 at 1:28 am

    I didn’t know about this decease so far.By reading your article only I came to know this.Valuable information.People should read this.After reading they will take care of their skin.

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Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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