The Importance of Itching With Diabetes
Can diabetes cause itching? It absolutely can and does cause itching. Diabetics should never ignore skin that itches! With skin that irritated, dry, or itchy, there is a much bigger risk for infection. With diabetes you have a much harder time fighting off infection than if you didn’t have the disease. There are ways to treat the itchy skin which is a relief. (No pun intended) 🙂
While there are different treatments for the itching, there are also a variety of reasons for it. Folks with diabetes will experience more itching than someone without it and one reason is from the result of damaged nerve fibers in the outer layers of your skin. Many times too often this occurs from peripheral neuropathy or diabetic polyneuropathy.
I am familiar with peripheral neuropathy because I have it. This condition happens when your blood glucose levels do damage to your nerve fibers, especially in your hands and in your feet. I have peripheral neuropathy in the feet and although I thankfully do not experience the itching, I do have the constant numbness in my feet.
Now anything that happens to your body no matter what it is is always something that ranges from annoying, to irritable, to very uncomfortable, and then all the way up to agonizing pain. At least you can be thankful if you’re at the low end of the scale and not the high end. I’m not saying that numbness in the feet is any picnic but itching, pain, and other horrors could be worse.
High levels of inflammatory substances known as cytokines can lead to the itching before nerve damage occurs. Itchiness should never be ignored and not addressed by any means. An itchiness that persists may possibly be an indication that if you’re a person with diabetes that you could be at a greater risk for nerve damage.
With diabetes many things are possible and you may experience issues with your liver or kidney failure. These can also attribute to itching too. There are other reasons why you could be having itching problems and one common cause is when you are prescribed a new medication. You should continue the medication under your doctor’s orders and it is confirmed that you have had an allergic reaction.
Other Skin Conditions That are Diabetes Related
* Necrobiosis lipodica- This particular condition will cause your skin to be very painful and very itchy. It causes bumps on the skin that appear as pimples that are in patches, raised and swelling. It’s not something I would want to go through and I’m sure that you wouldn’t either.
* Eruptive xanthamatosis- This condition develops on the skin and is found on the back of your legs, arms, feet, buttocks, and hands and they appear as firm, yellow, tiny like formations that are itchy with a red circle around them. Most of the time is happens with diabetics with high trigylceride levels and uncontrolled blood sugar levels. The good news here is that this condition will disappear once your diabetes is back under control.
* Skin infections- There are times when you can have an infection and not know it and you will have the itchy skin. In addition, your skin can feel hot, appear reddened, or swollen too. You may also see small blisters that produce a liquid discharge. Yuck! Let’s avoid this too!
* Allergic reactions- Allergic reactions on your skin can be fairly common when it comes to medications such as diabetic medications and insulin. You should always consult your physician immediately if you feel you have a reaction to a medication. But you want to be aware of any depressions, rashes, or bumps at a particular area of your skin where you inject your insulin.
* Diabetic blisters- Folks with diabetes will rarely experience blisters but they can occur on the backs of your toes, hands, feet, and fingers mostly. They are similar to burn blisters and happen if you have diabetic neuropathy. They can be painless and large and disappear without a couple of weeks. Best course of action is to control your blood sugar levels.
* Diabetic dermopathy- Diabetic dermopathy is when small blood vessels are changed from causes resulting from diabetes. These appear as brown patches that are scaly and can be round or oval in shape. They kind of resemble age spots. The bulk of the time they may appear on the front of your legs. But at least they are not painful, won’t open up, or itch. This doesn’t need to be treated because it’s harmless.
* Digital sclerosis- With diabetes there are people who sometimes develop a thick waxy skin on the backs of their hands. It can progress to where the joints don’t move the way that they used to move. This generally affects about 33% of people with type 1 diabetes. Maintaining blood sugar levels help to control this.
Itchy Skin and the Warnings of Type 2 Diabetes
It’s something that you should be looking out for in the winter months because that’s the time when dry and itchy skin appears most. It’s a warning sign for type 2 diabetes. Itching is a common symptom of type 2 diabetes and it’s wise to keep your skin moisturized as there are several conditions that will cause your skin to crack, itch, and peel.
Some people who experience itching in their lower legs and feet have this occur because of poor circulation. This causes hardening of the blood vessels which will cause the itching of the skin. There are a few ways that you can make the itching more tolerable. Exercising regularly is always a good choice. Do not smoke or use any tobacco. The most important is to control your blood sugars. Check your numbers regularly.
Fungal infections are common when you have diabetes and you want to take care of these with medications. It’s important for your doctor to prescribe the best course of action as far as the medication. Symptoms of fungal infections are red, dry, and cracking skin, breaking down of your skin, blisters, and of course itching too. It’s vital to keep your skin dry and clean to help fight off fungal infections.
The most common areas for fungal infections are your armpits, under the breasts, the groin area, around the corners of your mouth, near your nails and between your toes and your fingers. Any irritations in these areas should be closely watched and reported to your physician immediately.
To help in avoiding diabetes you can:
- Always drink plenty of water because this helps in keeping the largest organ in your body, your skin, hydrated.
- Try and use a moisturizer to fight off any dryness.
- It’s vital to keep any scrapes and cuts completely clean to avoid infections.
- Be careful out in the sun. While you need vitamin D, you still want to protect your skin with at least SPF 30 or higher.
- It’s best to stay out of temperatures that are extreme either way. Too cold and too hot will damage your skin.
Top Remedies for Itching of the Skin
* Hydrocortisone cream- Anti itch creams are a great way to deal with itching and soothing your skin. This cream stops inflammatory responses in your body and can help in calming down your itchy and inflamed skin. You always want to look for a cream that contains a minimum of 1% hydrocortisone.
* Baking soda- You can either bathe in water with baking soda or make a solution to apply to specific areas where you may be itching. For the bath use one cup of baking soda in a tub of warm water. For a solution mix 1 part baking soda to 3 parts water. Baking soda is a wonderful choice!
* Essential oils- I’ve used several essential oils and for many reasons including dry skin and itching. I find lavender to work the best but you can also use peppermint oil, rosemary oil, basil oil, chamomile oil, and thyme oil. Follow the directions on the bottle.
* Lemon juice- Lemon juice works great too by applying it directly to the affected area but don’t use this if you’ve been scratching too much and have any open wounds.
* Apple cider vinegar- This works wonders for so many different ailments including itching. You can use a few cups of apple cider vinegar by adding to your bath water. Up to 30 minutes should do it.
* Oatmeal- You want to add colloidal oatmeal to your bath. This isn’t an oatmeal that is edible but rather something that is an ingredient found in lotions and soaps. It’s safe and helps with the itchiness big time.
* Coconut oil- This can really help with reducing the dryness of your skin, especially on your hands, heels, and your elbows. It also can show significant improvement by applying to specific areas while you sleep.
* Dried fruits- Dried fruits can help to retain moisture in your skin. Consuming fruits with vitamins A,B, and E on a daily basis aid in treating very dry skin.
* More humidity- By sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom, you can benefit from the moisture in the air which your skin absorbs to ease the itching and soothing it.
So can diabetes cause itching? Diabetes and itching go together and if you control your diabetes, then you can control your dry skin and itching. Are your blood sugars under control? Are you where you need them to be?
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If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. Thank you for reading and have a happy and a healthy!