Diabetic Dermopathy

What is Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy refers to small lesions or spots on the skin. This diabetic skin condition can form anywhere on the body, but tends to develop on bony parts, such as the shins. This condition is fairly common for people with diabetes. While not everyone who has diabetes will develop diabetic dermopathy, 50% will develop some disease of the skin.

What Causes Diabetic Dermopathy?

The exact cause of diabetic dermopathy is unknown. However, there is a theory behind the formation of these lesions. Shin spots have been connected to leg injuries and some doctors have concluded they are a reaction to trauma in patients who have diabetes that isn’t well managed. Poorly managed diabetes can often lead to poor circulation, and poor circulation can reduce the body’s ability to heal from wounds. Decreased circulation to an area surrounding an injury prevents proper healing, resulting in the lesions or spots characteristic of diabetic skin problems.

Diabetic Dermopathy Signs and Symptoms

What Does Diabetic Dermopathy Look Like?

Diabetic skin lesions are round or oval. They are shiny, reddish-brown in color and appear in clustered patches. Symptoms of diabetic dermopathy include:

  • Spots or lesions on the shins, front of the thighs, scalp, sides of the feet, chest and forearms
  • Spots are pink, tan, red or dark brown in color
  • Spots are round and somewhat scaly
  • Clusters of spots that have existed for a time become slightly indented
  • Spots are bilateral (found on both shins at the same time)
  • Over time, the clusters look like an age spot

Diabetic Dermopathy Diagnosis

For patients with diabetes, doctors may be able to diagnose a diabetic skin condition by visually examining the skin. The doctor will evaluate the shape, color, size and location of the lesions to see if they are characteristic of diabetic dermopathy. In some cases, a biopsy may need to be performed if there is concern about other skin conditions.

Diabetic Dermopathy Treatment

Diabetic dermopathy treatment really focuses on prevention. Existing lesions will fade as time goes by. Healthy, moisturized skin that is free of injury will help keep diabetic dermopathy from developing further.

The most important step to take is to control blood sugar levels. Unregulated glucose is the biggest trigger for diabetic dermopathy. Managing blood sugar levels will not only help keep diabetic skin conditions under control, it will help prevent other complications of diabetes.

Learn More About Diabetic Dermopathy

Patients with reddish-brown spots or lesions on their shins, thighs, scalp, feet, chest or forearms should talk to their doctor about diabetic dermopathy. This condition may be an indication of unregulated blood sugar, so a consult with a Diabetes medical professional is recommended. 

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