What is the link between diabetes and itching?

Poor blood circulation caused by diabetes is the main link between diabetes and itching. High blood sugar causes the blood vessels in the feet and legs to narrow and harden. Nerve damage results, creating an itchy sensation in patients with diabetes. Itchy feet and legs are not just a symptom of diabetes, they are the first of many serious conditions that can develop. If a patient with diabetes does not control her diabetes, the itching can quickly turn into ulcers, calluses, and serious infections that may require amputation.

Although there is a link between diabetes and itching for all diabetes patients, it is much stronger when the patient has type 2 diabetes. Just as excess fat damages the arteries of the heart, excess sugar circulating in the body damages the delicate blood vessels in the legs and feet. Inadequate blood flow causes nerves to fire. The itchy sensation is a warning sign that damage is taking place. If a person is at risk for diabetes and itchy legs start unexpectedly, they should visit a doctor.

In addition to being a symptom of diabetes, itchy legs in a patient with already diagnosed diabetes is a clear indicator that the patient needs to adjust their lifestyle. To maintain a normal blood sugar level, patients must listen to what their bodies are telling them. Patients who have diabetes and itching despite leading a healthy lifestyle can consult their doctor. A doctor will run tests to determine if the itching is due to diabetes or another possibly unrelated condition.

A patient with diabetes who follows the regimen prescribed by their doctor will usually stop having episodes of itching. Although some nerve damage has occurred, lowering your blood sugar will keep your legs and feet healthy. However, if type 2 diabetes is not controlled, itching is just one of many degenerative conditions. Reduced blood flow will cause the legs and feet to develop ulcers and calluses. The sweat and oil glands will not be able to function due to nerve damage. Eventually, the development of necrosis and/or gangrene will require a surgeon to remove the foot or the entire leg.

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