Causes of Diabetic Itching

diabetic itching

Diabetics are also prone to skin ailments like lichen planus and urticaria that may lead to skin itching troubles. Actually, in diabetes persistent high glucose levels damages the blood vessels and neurons, causing alterations in the normal sensation of the body, giving rise to frequent itching problems. Around 33 percent of diabetic patients tend to develop diabetic itching, sooner or later in their lives. Nevertheless, most diabetic itching can be easily cured by controlling the blood glucose levels in the body.

Though, diabetic itching is seen in many of the diabetic patients, still diabetics need to undergo proper investigation of kidney, gall bladder, parasitic infections, skin and neurological ailments, before concluding it to be the result of diabetes. Correct diagnosis will provide the right prognosis and ultimately, the best cure from the itching hassles.

Causes of Diabetic Itching

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.


Dermopathy is the most frequently occurring skin infection amongst diabetic patients. It is more prevalent in those diabetics, who are living with the disease for over 10 years. Dermopathy infections are characterized by small brown skin patches, commonly formed in the legs.


A chronic autoimmune disorder wherein scaly red patches develop on the skin is known as psoriasis. This disorder is associated with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, with prevalence of 11 percent psoriasis cases in type 2 diabetic patients.

Eruptive Xanthomatosis

Yellow, itchy pea like boils may get formed on the skin of type 1 diabetic patients, known as eruptive xanthomatosis. These boils are usually very itchy and troublesome. Mild diabetic itching may be treated with use of mild soaps or use of topical creams like elidel, capsaicin or steroid ointment. Certain cases may demand antidepressants, minor tranquilizers or UV light therapy to relive the irritation caused by diabetic itching.

Acanthosis Nigricans

Overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes, who are under the age of 40 years, have high chances of developing acanthosis nigricans. In this disease, a skin darkening in neck, groin and armpit areas may take place due to high amounts of insulin hormone that promotes skin cell growth.

Digital Sclerosis

Thickening of the skin in patients of type 1 diabetes is commonly observed, and is called as digital sclerosis. The skin thickening may cause stiffed hands with difficulties in fingers movement.

Ulcers and Blisters

In a few diabetics, neuropathy (progressive neuron damage) develops that causes considerably painless blisters on the feet and hands. Diabetic patients with neuropathy may not be responsive to painful skin irritations and infections, formed on the feet due to lost neuronal sensation. Such patients usually lead to formation of potentially serious ulcers.

Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Diabetic patients are predisposed to bacterial and fungal skin infections. Candida albicans and trichophyton fungi cause a scaly and itchy rash, more commonly in folds of the skin. Amongst bacteria, Staphylococcus bacteria majorily cause skin infections in diabetics resulting in sties, boils and carbuncles formation.


Necrobiosis Lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD) is caused by blood vessels changes due to high glucose levels, in individuals suffering from diabetes. Large brown scaly patches present deep inside the blood vessels, are formed in NLD patients that may be seen through translucent skin in a few cases. These skin lesions may get cracked and opened up, causing intense pain. Though, NDL is rare but is observed more often in diabetic women than men.

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