Poor blood circulation caused by diabetes is the primary link between diabetes and itching. High blood sugar causes the blood vessels of the feet and legs to narrow and harden. Nerve damage results, creating an itching sensation in diabetes patients. Not only is itching of the feet and legs a symptom of diabetes, it is the first of many serious conditions that can develop. If a diabetes patient does not manage his or her diabetes, itching can quickly become ulcers, calluses and severe infection possibly requiring amputation.
Though there is a link between diabetes and itching for all diabetes patients, it is much greater when the patient has type 2 diabetes. Similar to how excess fat damages arteries in the heart, the excess sugar circulating through the body damages the delicate blood vessels of the legs and feet. Inadequate blood flow causes nerves to misfire. The itching sensation is a warning signal that damage is occurring. If a person is at risk for diabetes and itching in the legs starts unexpectedly, he or she should visit a doctor.
Besides being a symptom of diabetes, itching legs for an already diagnosed diabetes patient is a clear indicator that the patient needs to adjust his or her lifestyle. In order to maintain a normal level of blood sugar, patients must listen to what their bodies are telling them. Patients who have diabetes and itching even though they are living a healthy lifestyle may want to consult their doctor. A doctor will perform tests to determine whether the itching is due to diabetes or another possibly unrelated condition.
A diabetes patient who follows his or her doctor's prescribed regimen will generally stop having episodes of itching. Though some nerve damage has occurred, reduced blood sugar will keep the legs and feet healthy. If type 2 diabetes is left unchecked, though, itching is only first one of many degenerative conditions. Reduced blood flow will cause the legs and feet to develop ulcers and calluses. Sweat and oil glands will not be able to work due to nerve damage. Finally, the development of necrosis and/or gangrene will necessitate a surgeon to remove the foot or the entire leg.