Type 2 diabetes and skin health: Conditions and treatment
Skin complications usually occur when blood sugar levels are too high, and they are often the first visible sign of diabetes.
An estimated one-third of people with diabetes experience skin conditions either related to or influenced by the condition.
Medication options exist, but managing blood sugars is normally the best prevention and treatment option.
How does type 2 diabetes affect skin health?
When blood sugar levels are too high for too long, several changes take place in the body that affect skin health.
Blood sugar is removed from the body through the urine. When there is excess blood sugar, the rate of urination increases, which can cause dehydration and dry skin.
High blood sugar levels can also lead to inflammation, which over time dulls or overstimulates the immune response.
High blood sugar levels can also cause nerve and blood vessel damage, reducing circulation. Poor blood flow can alter the skin's structure, especially its collagen. Without healthy collagen networks, the skin can become stiff and in some cases brittle. Collagen is also necessary for proper wound healing.
Skin conditions associated with type 2 diabetes
Several skin conditions are associated with high or uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
While most skin complications associated with diabetes are harmless, the symptoms of some can be painful, persistent, and they may require medical attention.
The best and easiest treatment option for most diabetes-related skin conditions is managing blood sugar levels. In severe cases, however, oral steroids or medicated creams may be used.
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