People with diabetes are prone to a range of skin issues - in fact, certain problems with the skin can be among the first signs of diabetes. Being constantly itchy is one manifestation of diabetic skin problems, and it can be very uncomfortable. In this article, we'll explore ways to manage itching and the underlying problems that cause it.

Why am I itchy?

Itchy skin comes from a variety of different causes. You may have a yeast infection, which is a common diabetes complication. If you have a red, itchy rash, you may have a fungal infection called Candida albicans, which generally occurs in areas like the armpits or between your toes. If you do have a fungal infection, your doctor can prescribe you a medication that will treat it, which should also end the itching.

Other reasons for itching include dry skin, which is also fairly easy to treat. For itchy dry skin, you should consider taking fewer baths or showers and using very gentle soap when you do. You can also use lotion, of course, which can help moisturize your skin and soothe the itch.

In addition to these factors, poor circulation can cause itching over your entire body, particularly on your lower legs. One of the best things you can do to address this itching is to talk to your doctor about why your circulation is poor and what you can do.

When is itching serious?

One cause of diabetes-related itching that demands your immediate attention is nerve damage. Nerve damage can feel like pain and burning, and also sometimes like itching. You will notice it first in the hands and feet, but it will spread from those parts of the body inward. If you have itching in the hands and feet, talk to your doctor immediately. Your symptoms could reduce if you get your blood sugar under better control, but it's important to take possible nerve damage seriously. There are also medications available to address nerve damage.

How to make it through severe itching

No matter the cause, itching can be a very uncomfortable experience. It's tempting to scratch to find some relief, but people who have diabetes should hold off on giving in. Scratching too much could trigger a bacterial infection of the skin - which is both painful and itchy. To deal with itching, it's best to maintain good blood sugar control, take antihistamines if they help, and use a soothing lotion.

For more on diabetic complications:

New Treatment Could Protect Against Diabetic Foot Ulcers
How to Manage Diabetes, Complications, and Illnesses Simultaneously
Heart-Healthy Omega 3s Combat Complications of Diabetes