The American Diabetes Association (ADA) named November as Diabetes Month. It’s a timely reminder for everyone to come together and raise awareness on the ever-growing health issue of diabetes and the burdens that accompany it.

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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes refers to a disease associated with insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas to aid the body in storing and using sugar and fat from the food we eat. It occurs either when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin or when the body fails to respond to insulin.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 (juvenile-onset diabetes).
    This happens when the body’s immune system attacks the cells that release insulin, eliminating insulin production in the body and leaving the cells unable to absorb glucose, which is needed to produce energy.

  • Type 2 (adult-onset diabetes).
    This happens when the body rejects insulin, confusing the pancreas into producing less insulin.

There are nearly 30 million American children and adults who are currently living with diabetes. Additionally, a total of 86 million Americans are
considered pre-diabetic. Those with pre-diabetes, if not monitored, could progress to Type-2 diabetes.

Diabetes Affects Skin

Research shows that over 30 percent of people with diabetes are likely to develop diabetes-related skin complications, though most skin issues could be early symptoms of the disease itself. While most skin conditions are usually neglected, higher blood sugar (glucose) often aggravates the issue, which if left untreated could be fatal.

Moreover, high blood sugar levels encourage the body to urinate, often leading to dehydration. This also happens in the case of diabetic neuropathy, a condition that commonly affects the legs and thigh, making the skin red and sore.

Diabetes and Fungal Infections

Fungal infections such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm are common among diabetics. These infections are caused by a yeast fungus called “Candida Albicans” that usually thrives in the warm and moist folds of the skin. This fungus grows between fingers and toes and usually causes an itchy red rash. Tiny blisters, bumps, and scales often surround it. Proper hygiene, antifungal creams, and ointments can treat these infections.

While these skin diseases can be prevalent among people with or without diabetes, those with diabetes find it more difficult to heal. Also, the
complications could result in losing a body part.

Handling Diabetes

People with diabetes should be mindful of acne, razor cuts, and scratches since the disease inadvertently causes reduced blood flow, which is essential for the body’s natural healing process. It’s good that some antibiotic creams and medication can aid in soothing and healing skin infections.

Major injuries and infection require more stringent skin care regimens. Even small wounds like cuts or scrapes can take an extensive amount of time to heal due to high sugar levels, which in turn could put a diabetic at risk. Bacteria often thrive on higher sugar levels, which will also make it difficult for
immune cells to fight infection.

With proper diet and skin care regimen, diabetes-related complications can be managed. In support of diabetes awareness and American Diabetes Month, stay healthy.