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10/25/20222 min read

When it comes to detecting diabetes early, you might be surprised to learn that your skin can reveal a lot about your condition. In fact, certain changes in your skin may be among the earliest signs of diabetes. But there's no need to worry. In this article, we will explore eight common signs of diabetes that manifest on the skin, helping you recognize them early and take proactive steps toward better health.

1. Dry and Itchy Skin:

Did you know that dry and itchy skin can be a telltale sign of diabetes? High blood sugar levels can wreak havoc on your skin, leaving it parched and in need of moisture. One reason for this is that diabetes can damage the small blood vessels and nerves that supply blood and nutrients to the skin, causing moisture levels to decrease and leading to dryness and irritation. Furthermore, diabetes weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to skin infections, which can also result in dryness and itchiness.

2. Dark Velvety Patches of Skin (Acanthosis Nigricans):

Diabetes can lead to the development of dark, thick, and velvety patches of skin, a condition known as Acanthosis Nigricans. This occurs due to excessive insulin production in the body, often seen in people with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it compensates by producing more insulin, leading to insulin buildup in the bloodstream. This excess insulin can stimulate the growth of skin cells, resulting in the formation of these characteristic patches.

3. Skin Tags:

Skin tags are small benign growths that can appear on various parts of the body, and while their exact cause is not entirely understood, high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance commonly found in people with diabetes are believed to contribute to their development. Consistently elevated blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves in the skin, disrupting normal growth and healing processes. Additionally, certain hormones may promote the growth of skin cells and the formation of skin tags in people with diabetes.

4. Diabetic Dermopathy (Shin Spots):

Diabetic dermopathy, also known as shin spots, is a skin condition often associated with diabetes. It is characterized by light brown, scaly patches, primarily on the shins, but they can also appear on the thighs, feet, and arms. Chronic high blood sugar levels in diabetes can damage small blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the skin and resulting in areas of skin that lack adequate blood supply. Over time, these areas can develop into the distinctive light brown, scaly patches of diabetic dermopathy.

5. Nail Changes:

Diabetes can lead to various nail changes, including thickened nails, discoloration, and fungal infections. High blood sugar levels weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off fungal infections, increasing the risk of nail fungal infections. Additionally, reduced blood flow or nerve damage around the nails can cause thickened nails. Discoloration of the nails, ranging from yellow to brown or even black, can also occur in people with diabetes and should prompt a visit to a healthcare provider for evaluation.

6. Skin Infections:

While skin infections are not a direct sign of diabetes, individuals with diabetes may be more prone to them due to several factors related to the disease. High blood sugar levels weaken the immune system, making it more challenging for the body to fend off infections. Nerve damage associated with diabetes can reduce skin sensitivity, increasing the risk of skin injuries that may lead to infection. Certain types of skin infections, such as fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections, may also be more common in people with diabetes, especially in moist and warm areas of the body.

7. Blistering:

In some cases, people with diabetes may develop a condition known as diabetic bullae, which are large fluid-filled blisters typically found on the feet and legs. These blisters result from nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation in affected areas due to prolonged high blood sugar levels. It's important to note that not all blisters in individuals with diabetes are related to diabetic bullae, as blisters can also be caused by factors like friction or injury. Proper blood sugar management and regular foot exams are essential to prevent or manage diabetic bullae and other skin complications.

8. Slow Healing Wounds:

People with diabetes may experience slow healing wounds due to multiple diabetes-related factors. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, reducing blood flow to wounds, which hinders the delivery of nutrients and oxygen required for the healing process. Nerve damage can affect sensation, making it difficult to detect minor cuts or injuries that can escalate into larger wounds. Diabetes can also weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infections that may further delay healing. Additionally, people with diabetes may be more prone to other conditions like peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and venous insufficiency, both of which impair blood flow and hinder wound healing.


Recognizing these eight common signs of diabetes on your skin is crucial for early detection and management of the condition. If you observe any of these signs, it's essential to take action and proactively manage your blood sugar levels. Regular communication with your healthcare provider, proper wound care, and diligent monitoring can help prevent complications and promote healing. Diabetes is a manageable condition, and early intervention is key to maintaining your overall health and well-being.

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