Can Diabetes Cause Itching?

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By : dLife Editors

Whether diabetes causes itching is a common question among people living with diabetes, especially those with type 2.  The short answer to the question is yes.  When compared to people without diabetes, it is observed that people with diabetes experience more rates of itching.

This can cause a lot of discomforts as it can lead to excessive scratching among these individuals.  According to a study which involved about 2,700 people living with diabetes and 499 people without the condition, it was discovered that people with this condition reported more cases of itching than those without it.

It was estimated that 11.3% of the individuals with diabetes reported an incidence of skin itching as against 2.9% of people without diabetes.

If you have diabetes and you start itching your skin, you need to take proper action and not neglect it because dry, irritated, or itchy skin has a greater chance of getting infected. Someone living with diabetes, of course, may be unable to fight infections like someone who is not having diabetes.

There are a variety of treatment options available to help reduce itchy skin as a result of diabetes. This will help you enjoy a more comfortable life and will help you prevent other skin conditions from occurring.

 What Exactly Causes Itching?

There are many things that can cause itchy skin for someone with diabetes. Sometimes, it may be as a result of damaged cells in the outer skin layers.

Most times, this condition is caused by peripheral neuropathy or diabetic polyneuropathy. This is a condition that often happens when the nerve fibers – especially the ones in the hands and feet are damaged by a high level of glucose in the blood. Before the damage to these nerve fibers happens, the cytokines level in the body increases and thus triggers an inflammatory response which can lead to itching in the skin.

Some underlying skin conditions may also cause the skin to itch, including eczema, athlete’s foot, psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa, and sunburn.

What About Genital Itching?

Your skin is not the only part that can itch when you have diabetes.  It has been identified that one of the major problems in diabetes is genital yeast infections.

This is often as a result of the high level of glucose which provides a seemingly conducive environment and condition for the growth of natural yeasts and therefore, reduces the natural infection-fighting ability of the body.

The growth of yeast can also be encouraged by the deposit of glucose in the urine of people living with diabetes.

There can also be other causes of genital itching aside from diabetes and may include herpes, scabies, chemical irritants, allergies, and various skin diseases. Even though these conditions can affect virtually anyone, it’s more commonly felt by people living with diabetes.

How Do I Relief The Itching?

An individual living with diabetes can take several steps to ensure he or she maintains healthy and itch-less skin. Some of these steps include:

  • Effectively managing diabetes and keeping a close watch on blood sugar levels, preventing it from going too high
  • Avoiding moisturizers with harsh dyes or perfumes
  • Avoiding the rate of hot baths as it could strip the skin of its natural moisture
  • Making some lifestyle changes like eating healthy and exercising enough
  • Keeping your skin soft and moist by the use of some home remedies like aloe vera gel or paste of oatmeal
  • Applying skin lotion immediately after drying off from a bath
  • Meditation could also be of great help when it comes to reducing localized itching.

It will be the perfect time to speak to your doctor when you notice your itching is going to a state that it cannot be controlled with home treatment remedies after a couple of weeks. While itchy skin may seem normal to people without diabetes as it could happen from time to time, it can signal a poor diabetes control in diabetics and could also mean a potential nerve damage to these set of people.


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