Diabetes > Symptoms and Complications > Skin Conditions Relating To Diabetes

Skin Conditions Relating To Diabetes

The skin is an incredibly important body organ, and it is often overlooked due to the pure obviousness of it.

Skin dehydration

The dehydration usually experienced by diabetics because of polyuria can affect the skin. If it gets too dry, it may crack and split. This provides the perfect breeding ground for germs, which, due to the possible high blood glucose levels, will be able to thrive more readily. This can lead to infections, such as thrush.

In addition, it can lead to infections of the feet, which is incredibly risky for diabetics, especially those suffering from neuropathy.

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD)

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum, is easier to know as it's abbreviation NLD, is a skin disease where the skin becomes red and inflamed in an irregular pattern. Although 50% of sufferers of NLD are diabetic, only a very small number of diabetics actually experience it. However, it is not treatable and will likely never go away.

NLD presents itself as a patch of uncomfortable, red skin. The only way to treat it is to take care of the skin with moisturisers and anti-septic creams to keep it clean and as healthy as possible.

It can be quite painful and develops when small injuries occur, especially on the shin.

It is possible to disguise with certain make-ups, but there is a chance that a covering could aggravate the condition and make it worse. You should seek medical advice on the best course of action to deal with NDL if you contract it.


Thrush is one of the most common and most embarrassing forms of skin infection. It is a fungal infection that occurs in the damp, warm places of the body and is most commonly associated with women and vaginal infections.

The Causes of Thrush

Thrush is a fungal infection caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans. There is usually always some of this fungus present on or in people, but it is normally kept at bay by anti-bodies and other, 'friendly' bacteria. However the delicate balance can shift and the yeast may be able to grow out of control, causing an infection.

Diabetes and Thrush

Diabetics generally have a slightly weaker immune system than people without it, and so they cannot fight off infections as well. This may give the yeast the edge to begin to multiply out of control.

In addition, yeast, as with most bacteria thrive in high sugar environments. If there is a high level of glucose in the blood then the fungus will feed off it and get all the nutrients it needs to grow.

The Symptoms of Thrush

Thrush has many identifiable symptoms for each of the likely sites it could infect. If you think you are suffering from any form of thrush, you should see a doctor so that the right antibiotics can be prescribed.

Vaginal Thrush:

Many of the symptoms of vaginal thrush are similar for a lot of sexually transmitted infections so you should check with a doctor if you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms anyway.

  • An unpleasant white discharge
  • Itchiness
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unpleasant smells

Penile Thrush

  • Reddening and soreness of the glans of the penis
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Discharge beneath the foreskin
  • Unpleasant smells
  • Pain while urinating

Oral Thrush:

  • A bitter taste in the mouth
  • Painful and sore mouth, including down to the throat
  • Cracked lips and corners of the mouth
  • Lesions in the mouth
  • Bleeding gums


Thrush can be combated by anti-fungal creams and certain medications. Treatment should be followed through to the end of the prescription, to ensure that all the fungus has been killed, even if the symptoms cease, some fungus may still remain, unseen. If there is some remaining, the infection is likely to return, and so it is important to take the entire course of medication to prevent recurrence.

Thrush can also be passed on to other people through physical contact with the infected site, especially intercourse. It is highly recommended to avoid this sort of contact.

Other diabetic symptoms/complications to be aware of