Diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including skin. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin changes are one of the most common signs of diabetes.

When diabetes affects your skin, it’s often a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high over time.

This means skin changes can appear even before you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.

Dr James O’Donovan, an NHS doctor, said there are 13 skin signs associated with type 2 diabetes.

Taking to his TikTok channel, where he has more than 25,000 followers, he listed the signs to look out for.

13 skin signs associated with type 2 diabetes

1. Acanthosis nigricans

These are dark patches in places such as the neck or under the armpit, said Dr O’Donovan.

The condition is often described as making skin ‘velvety’ and can be itchy and have an odour.

2. Diabetic blisters

These can occur on the backs of fingers, hands, toes, feet, and sometimes on legs or forearms. The American Diabetes Association says the sores look like bra blisters and often occur in people who have diabetic neuropathy.

3. Granuloma annulare

These are circular-like lesions, said Dr O’Donovan. The NHS says the most common symptom is small circular patches of pink, purple or skin-coloured bumps on the skin.

4. Digital sclerosis

This is the medical term for thickened skin. The CDC says the condition starts with tight, thick, waxy skin on your dinners and can cause your finger joints to become stiff and hard to move.

5. Shin spots

These are known as diabetic dermopathy. The Cleveland Clinic says the spots that develop are pink, reddish or brown, round or oval, slightly indented into your skin or scaly, and appear on the skin of both of your legs or both of your arms at the same time.

6. Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD)

These are lesions commonly seen on the shins, said Dr O’Donovan. The NHS says this is characterised by shiny, red-brown or yellowish patches on the skin.

7. Eruptive xanthomatosis

These look like bumps all over the skin, often caused by high lipids in the blood.

8. Bacterial skin infections

This can include things such as cellulitis, said Dr O’Donovan. Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain in the infected area of the skin

9. Fungal skin infections

An example of this is candida, said Dr O’Donovan. Thrush is a yeast infection (candida albicans) which tends to affect warm, moist areas of the body such as the vagina, penis, mouth and certain areas of skin. It’s more common in people with diabetes as high sugar levels lead to better conditions for the yeast to grow, says Diabetes.co.uk.

10. Xanthalasma

These are yellowish, raised deposits of cholesterol often seen around the eyes.

11. Diabetic foot ulcers

These often have a “punched out” appearance, said Dr O’Donovan.

12. Vitiligo

This is when the pigment is lost from areas of the skin, causing whitish patches. Dr O’Donovan said this is caused by a lack of melanin.

13. Skin tags

These appear as small, soft, skin-coloured growths on the skin.

If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your GP.

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