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Causes of Diabetic Itching

By Mandy Seay ; Updated August 14, 2017

According to the Cleveland Clinic, itching skin, also known as pruritus, can have many causes in people with diabetes. Examples include yeast infections, dry skin and poor circulation. Most skin issues can be prevented or easily treated if caught early. If left untreated, however, some skin issues can lead to infection and other serious complications including amputation. Keeping diabetes under control is key to preventing skin-related complications.

Fungal Infections

Candida albicans, a yeast-like fungus, is often responsible for itchy rashes with tiny blisters and scales. Fungal infections usually occur in warm, moist areas such as under the breasts, between fingers and toes, around the nails, in the corners of the mouth, the armpits and the groin. Three common forms of fungal infections include jock itch, athlete’s foot and ringworm. Medication may be necessary to treat fungal infections.

Eruptive Xanthamatosis

According to the American Diabetes Association, eruptive xanthamatosis is often seen in individuals with uncontrolled blood glucose and high blood triglyceride levels. In this condition, itchy, yellow, firm, pea-like formations with a red halo develop on the skin, usually on the backs of hands, feet, arms, legs and buttocks. Once diabetes control has been restored, these bumps will disappear.

Poor Circulation

Poor circulation, a result of the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, often causes itching of the lower legs and feet. Lotion may aid in preventing itching from dry skin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, keeping blood glucose levels under control, eliminating tobacco use and being physically active can help increase circulation and protect your legs and feet.

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD), a condition that can be itchy and painful, is caused by blood vessel changes. NLD generally affects the lower areas of the legs and is characterized by raised, waxy and yellow skin with purple borders. Treatment is not necessary unless the sores break open.

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