Causes of diabetes itching
- Itching can result from damaged nerve fibres located in the outer layers of skin.
- The cause of diabetes-related itching is often diabetic polyneuropathy or peripheral neuropathy. This occurs when high blood glucose levels damage nerve fibres, particularly those in the feet and hands.
- Before the nerve damage occurs, the body experiences high levels of cytokines.
- Persistent itchiness may be a precursor to nerve damage in someone with diabetes. Itchiness should never be ignored.
- People with diabetes can experience associated disorders that include kidney or liver failure. These conditions may also cause itching.
- New medication may cause the skin to itch in persons with diabetes. This should be discussed with your doctor.
- Other reasons for itching may be underlying skin conditions like athlete’s foot, eczema, hidradenitis suppurative, psoriasis and sunburn.
Symptoms vary and depend on the cause
- If a person has peripheral neuropathy, they are more likely to experience itching on the lower parts of the legs.
- Peripheral neuropathy can also cause a loss of sensation, usually the feet or hands. This could be accompanied by a tingling sensation.
- Itching often occurs at night.
How to relieve diabetes itching
- Manage diabetes carefully and prevent blood sugar levels from becoming too high.
- Avoid taking very hot baths. Hot water can strip the skin of its natural moisture.
- Apply skin lotion immediately after bathing or showering. A person with diabetes should not apply lotion between the toes, as this can attract harmful fungi.
- Use lotions that are hypoallergenic. There are also diabetes-specific lotions available.
- Stick to a healthy diet and manage blood sugar levels throughout the day.