As those with diabetes know, the disease, especially when poorly treated or monitored, may lead to other complications like infections, wounds, and other health complications. Diabetic dermopathy is one of these many health risks for those with diabetes, and may effect patients of all genders, ages, and races if diabetes is not well monitored and cared for.
Why do diabetics have skin problems?
Diabetic people are more prone to dry skin, especially when the blood glucose level is high. This results in the body to lose fluids and skin tends to get dry. Dry skin cracks easily. If left untreated it turns itchy and leads to numerous infections.
Skin problems associated with diabetes mellitus
According to researchers, 30% of the individuals with diabetes mellitus experience skin problems at different stages of the ailment. These skin problems are quite common, mainly the ones that occur as a result of infection like candida and impetigo.
Common skin conditions include:
Diabetic stiff skin
Other not so common ailments include:
What is Diabetic Dermopathy?
Diabetic dermopathy is a variety of skin lesion. It is seen in individuals suffering from diabetes mellitus. The most common features include dull-red papules that develop in to small, round, atrophic hyper pigmented skin lesions appearing mainly on the shin area.
One of the most popular diabetic skin ailment, it is found in more than 50% of individuals suffering from diabetes. One can find similar lesions in non diabetic individuals as well. They appear because of an injury or trauma in the shin area.
What are the symptoms of Diabetic Dermopathy?
In the initial stages diabetic dermopathy appear as patches that vary in color from light brown to dark brown. In some cases, they may be pink to red as well. Other symptoms include:
Oval or round shaped patches
The patches tend to become indented slightly if they are long standing. (in other words they turn atrophic).
These spots appear in number and cover a big area.
They mostly occur on the lower limbs, thighs, feet and shins.
Rare symptoms include:
Itchy patches that sting or burn
Patches that become open sores and start to hurt.
In certain cases they look like age spots.
Some diabetic individuals may also observe the spots on the forearms.
What are the causes of Diabetic Dermopathy?
In general terms, diabetic dermopathy is also referred to as sugar spots or shin spots. Medical professionals often refer to it as pigmented pretibial patches.
The blood vessels in our body are responsible for supplying blood to the skin. But, when there are changes in the blood vessels, these sugar spots appear.
The spots might also appear if there is a minor seepage of blood products in the skin. These spots are very common in individuals suffering from diabetes. As per statistics, 50% of the individuals with diabetes experience these spots.
Although the exact cause of this disease is unknown but researchers have associated it with vascular and diabetic neuropathic complications. They tend to occur more in diabetic patients with retinal damage of the eye, nerve/sensory damage and / or kidney damage.
These spots are noticed more in those individuals who are suffering from diabetes for a long period of time like for at least 10-20 years or in those who are unable to control the diabetes. In some cases it is seen that the individual is experiencing these spots but he is not a diabetic patient. In such a scenario the underlying cause is generally an injury.
The exact cause of diabetic dermopathy is unknown. Although researches are still going on, yet no specific cause could be named. It may be that the affected area got injured due to direct impact. In some cases, exposure to excessive heat or cold has also been found to be responsible.
It is seen that due to the presence of these spots cutaneous and subcutaneous bleeding takes place at the injury. Through different tests, it has been noticed that this infected blood has glycosolated hemoglobin in it which in other words is nothing but glucose-saturated hemoglobin. Presence of Iron is also noticed.
The damaged cells deposit the iron and hemoglobin on the skin. The discolored patches start appearing on the skin when the body fails to heal the damage. Those who experience these spots in high numbers should seek medical helps especially if they are not diagnosed with diabetes.
Treatment for Diabetic Dermopathy?
At this time, there is no real medical treatment for diabetic dermopathy. No real treatment is actually needed, either. However, if you want to reduce the appearance of such spots, or perhaps keep them from appearing in the first place if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, there are certain steps you can take in self-care on a daily basis that may help to do just that. Normally, time is the best treatment for these spots, along with avoiding any type of injury to the areas listed above, especially the legs. Be sure to keep your legs, thighs, and other areas well-moisturized on a daily basis the help prevent such scaly patches from developing. Also, caring for your diabetes properly will go a long way in preventing these lesions from appearing. Be sure to control your blood glucose levels, take your prescribed medications on a proper schedule, and manage your diet.