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Diabetic Dermopathy : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy is a condition of the skin that occurs in the lower part of the legs. It is seen as pigmented pretibial patches or shin spots. About 50% of people with diabetes develop some form of dermatosis.(1)

These spots come and go and mostly do not cause any other symptoms.

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What Causes Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy is common in people with diabetes, but its cause is unknown.

Shin spots have been linked with leg injuries. This makes researchers believe trauma to be the cause of diabetic dermopathy in those people where diabetes is not maintained. Uncontrolled diabetes causes poor circulation and inadequate blood flow to different parts of the body. Over time the reduced blood flow may lead to poor wound healing abilities. This may prevent the wound from healing properly leading to bruises-like lesions and spots.

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Damaged blood vessels and nerves due to diabetes mellitus may increase the risk of diabetes dermopathy.

Diabetic dermopathy is common in older adults who have been suffering from diabetes for a longer period of time.

It is important to note that the above discussion is based on the theory of what may be causing diabetic dermopathy.

Symptoms of the Diabetic Dermopathy

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How diabetic dermopathy looks in different people will vary.

Mostly, the skin condition is characterized by reddish brown, round or oval, a scar-like patch that is usually one centimeter or less.

The lesion primarily forms on the shin but can also be formed in other parts of the body as well. These include:

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  • Thigh
  • Trunk
  • Arms

Depending on the severity and the number of spots, the condition can be unpleasant to look at. However, it can be harmless.

Mostly, diabetic dermopathy does not cause any symptoms. There may be the development of one or a cluster of lesions on the shin and other body parts.

The lesions often occur bilaterally, which means may occur in both arms or legs. Diabetic dermopathy does not show the appearance of any other symptoms other than the appearance of lesions. These lesions do not release fluids and also are not contagious.

How is Diabetic Dermopathy Diagnosed?

Diabetic dermopathy may be an early sign of diabetes along with other symptoms including frequent thirst and urination, fatigue, blurry vision, weight loss, and tingling in the limbs.

If a person has not been diagnosed with diabetes but the doctor suspects the lesions to be diabetes dermopathy, he may order further testing that may be helpful in confirming the diagnosis.

Treatment of Diabetic Dermopathy

Diabetic dermopathy has no specific treatment but controlling diabetes may be helpful in preventing further related complications.

Some lesions may take months to resolve while some may be permanent.

There is no specific treatment for diabetic dermopathy, but a few steps can be taken to manage the condition. These tips include:

  • Application of makeup on the spots
  • If diabetic dermopathy leads to dry scaly skin, applying moisturizer may be helpful in giving relief
  • Moisturizing may also help in improving the appearance of the spots

Anyhow, even if there is no treatment for diabetic dermopathy, managing the levels of blood sugar can be helpful in preventing other diabetes-related complications.

Preventing diabetic dermopathy is not possible, but if it occurs due to injury preventive steps can be taken, which include wearing protective padding on the areas most exposed to injuries. Wearing knee-length socks and shin pads can be helpful in protecting these areas.

Diabetic dermopathy is a very common condition in people suffering from diabetes. These lesions do not cause any complications but should not be ignored. Sometimes, they are an indicator of a person suffering from diabetes. This condition can be managed by keeping diabetes under control. For this, it is important to pay weekly visits to the doctor and also take the medication regularly, if prescribed. Diabetes can also be controlled by being regular with physical activity and adopting certain lifestyle changes.

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