How Do I Stop Diabetic Itching

How Do I Stop Diabetic Itching

 It is not uncommon for people with diabetes to complain about itching, or often termed diabetic itching. This issue can be incredibly uncomfortable and lead to excessive scratching, or itching, which can further lead to infection, discomfort, and pain.

Thankfully, there are methods in treating diabetic itching! You are not alone in this discomfort. Individuals with diabetes should not ignore itchy skin as they may not be able to fight off infection as well as someone who does not have diabetes. 

Continue reading this article to find the answers to stopping diabetic itching below!

 image of lady rubbing feet

Why do people with diabetes get itchy skin?

Interestingly enough, itchy skin is one of the first signs a person has diabetes. Diabetes can cause a variety of problems. Skin conditions such as bacterial infections, fungal infections, diabetic dermopathy, necrobiosis lipoidica, diabeticorum, diabetic blisters, and eruptive xanthomatosis are common in those with diabetes.

High blood sugars can lead to skin conditions that can develop gradually. It can be itchy and painful but following medical advice for your diabetes can essentially reduce the chances of battling these skin conditions.


Causes of diabetic itching

According to the American Diabetes Association persistent high blood sugar levels cause a variety of issues that result in pesky skin complications.

 High blood sugar levels can do things such as:

  1. Reduce the flow of oxygen that is necessary for skin to heal and maintain
  2. Damage and destroy skin cells
  3. Can fuel the growth of fungus
  4. Drastically encourage the risk of infection in minor cuts, blisters, and scrapes


When an individual finds their blood sugar levels unnecessarily high it can cause:

  1. Reduced blood circulation
  2. Severe dry skin
  3. Diabetic neuropathy
  4. Growth of fungus
  5. Itchy skin

Fungal Infections

Diabetics can develop a host of yeast infections in a number of locations on their bodies. A specific fungal infection termed “Candida albicans” is fueled by excess sugar in your blood. It is occasionally termed:

  1. Jock itch
  2. Athlete’s foot
  3. Vaginal yeast infection
  4. Ringworm


Here are a variety of locations that can be affected by fungal infections:

  1. Around your nails
  2. Between your fingers and toes
  3. Underneath your breasts
  4. In your armpits
  5. Moist folds of the skin (think rolls of body fat)
  6. Corners of your mouth
  7. Under the foreskin of uncircumcised men
  8. In and around the vagina in women
  9. In and around your groin area

Severe dry skin

If you have relatively healthy blood sugar levels, your dry skin may have nothing to do with your diabetes. On the other hand, if your blood sugar levels are running higher than a healthy range, your dry skin is being worsened by it.

You can easily combat severe dry skin by improving your blood sugar levels. If blood flow is limited, your skin isn’t receiving the nutrients and oxygen it requires to thrive and recuperate each day. Though it may not be the easiest task, working with your healthcare providers it is possible to heal your dry skin. 

You can also improve your skin-care routine by:

  1. Avoiding overly hot water or showers that can damage and dry your skin.
  2. Reduce the consistency of showers and baths (especially in dryer winter months).
  3. Apply moisturizer after every bath or shower
  4. And especially during dry winter months
  5. Research the skincare products you use to make sure they are natural!
  6. Use “mild” soaps (check the ingredients!)
  7. Avoid products that contain fragrances, colors, and other commercial additives that can potentially agitate or harm your skin.

Diabetic neuropathy

A serious condition that can develop when high blood glucose levels cause damage to nerve fibers, diabetic neuropathy is nothing to joke about. It can cause nerve damage, especially in the hands and feet.

Make sure to catch early signs that appear including:

  1. Itchiness
  2. Burning
  3. Tingling in affected areas


Contact your healthcare doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms!

Treatment for diabetic itching

lady scratching arm

There are treatments for diabetic itching! It can seem overwhelming, especially when you're about ready to scratch the skin off your legs or forearms with the intensity.

The American diabetes association is another great tool in where to receive treatment, health concerns related to diabetes, how to control blood sugar levels, why your blood sugar affects your body, and what each skin condition related to diabetes is and what it causes.

Whether it be yeast-like fungus or scaly patches, make sure to receive medical advice from your healthcare doctor first and foremost.

They know you and your condition best and diabetes can occur differently with each individual. Medical concerns are serious. A poor treatment decision can be lethal when not taken from a reliable source.

To prevent a skin condition:

  1. Keep skin clean and check for signs of dry skin.
  2. Make sure your diabetes is well-managed.
  3. High glucose levels are usually less likely to fend off harmful bacteria with the bad combination of dry skin.
  4. Moisturize to prevent dry skin
  5. By scratching dry and itchy skin it allows for infection to set in.
  6. Be extra cautious and top of this during cold weather.
  7. Avoid extremely hot water baths and showers (and if the skin is dry do not use bubble baths). Utilize moisturizing soaps and standard skin lotion.
  8. Do NOT put lotion between toes as it will encourage fungus to grow.
  9. Visit a dermatologist concerning a skin condition if you have any questions or concerns or wish to receive a diagnosis or treatment.
  10. Use a humidifier during more cold and dry months.
  11. Utilize mild shampoos (to prevent agitation)
  12. Check your feet for sores and cuts. Make sure to take good care of them to prevent fungus or skin issues. 

How can I stop itching fast?

First and foremost, moisturize! Check your blood sugar levels to make sure they aren’t high. If they are, get on lowering your blood sugar levels to combat the itching that is caused by your high blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes, staying on top of blood sugar levels is crucial!

Other remedies:

  1. Hydrocortisone cream
  2. Can be used to treat diabetic itching
  3. Allergic reactions to insulin may cause diabetic itching
  4. Oatmeal soap
  5. Relives itching and inflammation
  6. Poor blood circulation due to diabetes can result in itching
  7. Drink plenty of water or non-sugary fluids

How to prevent diabetic itching

Diabetic itching can be avoided by staying on the ball with your blood sugar management. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1c at or below 7.0 percent to reduce any risk of developing any diabetes-related complications.  

How to get blood sugar levels under control

Poor blood sugar levels can cause skin condition issues such as diabetic dermopathy, a condition that can cause small lesions on your skin.

Some other skin problems caused by poor blood sugar:

  1. eruptive xanthomatosis
  2. caused by severe insulin resistance and high blood cholesterol.
  3. firm, yellow, waxy pea-like bumps on the skin are surrounded by red halos
  4. itchy
  5. usually shows up around the eyes, elbows, and face
  6. often occur in people with diabetic neuropathy
  7. Digital sclerosis
  8. due to poor blood flow
  9. the skin on your toes, fingers, and hands become thick, waxy, and tight
  10. Granuloma annulare
  11. cause sharply defined ring- or arc-shaped areas on the skin
  12. these rashes occur most often on the fingers and ears but can appear on the chest and abdomen, too.
  13. granuloma annulare happens often in those with severe diabetes and diabetic neuropathy
  14. Necrobiosis lipoidica
  15. if you've had diabetes for a long time without good control of your blood sugar, you can develop this condition
  16. the overlaying skin becomes thin and red.
  17. lesions can be found on the lower parts of the legs and often occurs on the front of both legs.
  18. Disseminated granuloma annulare
  19. causes sharply defined ring- or arc-shaped areas on the skin
  20. rashes happen most often around the fingers and ears but can appear on the chest and abdomen, too.

Follow these tips and tricks provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Management to combat high blood sugar levels for people with diabetes:

  1. Follow your diabetes meal plan. Talk to your doctor or dietician for assistance if you’re struggling to stick to it.
  2. Talk to your doctor about adjusting insulin dosages and the type of insulin (like short-acting for example) to use.
  3. Check your blood sugar as directed by your doctor.
  4. If you are sick, check more often.
  5. If you are concerned about high or low blood sugar, check more often.
  6. Be more active and exercise regularly. Exercising regularly can maintain blood sugar levels.
  7. IMPORTANT NOTE- If you have ketones present in your urine DO NOT EXERCISE. This can cause your blood sugar to shoot up higher.
  8. Take medicine as instructed by your doctor. If your blood sugar is often high, your doctor may change how much medicine you take or when you take it. 


Another note to consider is carbohydrates. Carbs, in food, make your blood sugar levels go higher after you them in contrast to when you eat proteins or fats. Don’t necessarily avoid carbohydrates but consider talking to your health care team to see what the best carb goals are for you.  

Here are some more tips provided by the CDC to help manage blood sugar levels:

  1. Limit alcoholic drinks
  2. Choose fruit for a sweet treat
  3. Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down
  4. Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fats, trans fat, sugar, and salt. 
  5. Drink water rather than juice or soda
  6. Eat at regular times and don’t skip meals
  7. Control food portions
  8. Track your food, drink, and physical activity


kaelyn buzzo  Kaelyn is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach (ISSA) with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing (English) and a Minor in Nutrition from the University of South Florida. Read More.