What is Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy may occur as a result of poor control over the body's glucose levels.
Diabetics may be prone to developing infections following foot injuries.
Prolonged high blood sugar may cause vision problems in diabetics, and exacerbate diabetic dermopathy.
Most diabetic patients need to receive daily insulin injections to control their blood glucose levels.
Diabetics should inspect all parts of the legs and feet for sores or wounds on a regular basis.
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  • Written By: Kathie Scheidler
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 27 July 2015
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Diabetic dermopathy, also known as shin spots, is a type of skin lesion seen in people who have diabetes mellitus. It is characterized by scaly, indented patches and small papules that typically appear on the shins or the front of the thighs. Diabetic dermopathy is the most common of all diabetic skin conditions. It sometimes appears in people without diabetes, as well.

Diabetic dermopathy is caused by a type of angiitis, or vascular inflammation, that affects small blood vessels in the skin. It is believed to be closely related to an increase in glycosylated hemoglobin, which can indicate poor control of the body's blood glucose levels. Diabetic dermopathy usually occurs when the skin becomes injured. The shins are a vulnerable area for the condition because they do not have a great deal of fat to absorb direct trauma.

Diabetic dermopathy is distinguished by skin lesions that usually are round or oval. In some people, they look similar to age spots. The lesions normally cover a large area because they can be quite numerous. They typically do not itch, sting or burn. The spots also usually do not hurt or become open sores.


Diabetic dermopathy can sometimes be seen in people who do not have diabetes, although this is very uncommon. The presence of more than three skin lesions is almost always limited to people who have diabetes. Individuals with the condition are usually of an older age or have had diabetes for at least 20 years. Up to 30 percent of diabetics will develop the ailment at some point. It is more common in men than in women.

One form of diabetic dermopathy is called eruptive xanthoma. It results from uncontrolled diabetes. This disorder creates the sudden eruption on the skin of small, yellowish-orange to reddish-brown papules. These papules might appear on the hands, arms, feet, legs and buttocks, and they develop because of high concentrations of plasma triglycerides. The xanthomas usually disappear as soon as the diabetes is under control.

There is no truly effective treatment for diabetic dermopathy. The skin lesions, however, can sometimes improve with better blood sugar control. The use of 15-25 milligrams of chelated zinc daily for several weeks has helped some individuals. The patches and papules normally tend to go away by themselves after a few years, but they usually will leave scars behind. As with most medical problems, the disorder can be more easily controlled if it is caught in its early stages.


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Post 2

My doctor also told me there was not any specific treatment for these diabetic dermopathy spots. I had a few of these spots show up on my thighs and wanted to see how I could get rid of them.

If you have diabetes it seems to take longer than most people for these types of things to heal or go away. I tried putting some antibiotic cream on them every day to see if it would help.

Eventually the spots did disappear. I don't know if the cream helped or not, but at least it didn't cause any harm.

Post 1

My Dad has struggled with diabetes for many years and often has a hard time keeping his blood sugar under control. A few years ago he began noticing these small round spots and his doctor told him they were diabetic dermopathy spots.

He was told there isn't really any kind of treatment for them and that the most important thing was to keep his blood sugar levels low.

It seems like these spots are just another reminder of his diabetes and that he has to be very vigilant about taking his medication and watching his diet.

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