What Is Waxy Skin?

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  • Written By: Misty Wiser
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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Waxy skin is a dermatological condition most often caused by excess blood sugar levels in diabetics. Skin appears much thicker and feels tighter than the surrounding healthy tissue, frequently making it difficult to move the affected area. It will look waxy and slightly shiny as the tissue thickens. The tightening is most noticeable around the finger joints. Treatment involves lowering blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication.

The location of the waxy skin is an important factor in obtaining a correct diagnosis. When it is found on the hands, fingers, feet, or toes, the condition is called digital sclerosis. Some diagnosed with digital sclerosis also report a buildup of thick skin on the forehead. If the waxiness is located on the back of the neck and the upper back, it is called scleroderma diabeticorum. Most people that are diagnosed with scleroderma diabeticorum are also overweight and have diabetes.

Diagnosis of a waxy skin condition is usually made after a visual examination by a physician. Confirmation of the skin disorder is occasionally obtained through further testing. Additional thickening of the skin can be measured by a non-invasive test called high-frequency ultrasonography. Before the test, a technician will apply a lubricating gel that aids in the transmission of sound waves to the area and sends results to the ultrasound machine. Images are projected onto a nearby computer screen, allowing the results to be immediately available to the physician.


Treatment for waxy skin caused by diabetes begins with lowering blood sugar levels. Most physicians recommend a diet and exercise program as the first step in controlling blood sugar. Medication and insulin may be needed for some diabetics in order to achieve normal blood sugar readings and relief from waxy skin.

There are other steps a diabetic can take to promote skin elasticity and moisture, including avoiding bathing or showering in hot water. Smoking may cause an increase in the incidence of tight dry skin, and most physicians advise diabetics to quit smoking as soon as possible. Increasing the daily amount of water and other re-hydrating fluids may help the skin retain its moisture.

Coping with waxy skin can be made easier by following a few easy tips. Much of the discomfort caused by waxy skin may be relieved by using a moisturizing skin lotion on a daily basis. Allowing for additional time for tasks involving the hands may help some diabetics eliminate the frustration of being unable to complete activities at the rate they were once accustomed.


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Post 2

Does anyone know of any natural remedies for treating waxy skin?

In general I try to stay away from processed skin care products because I never know how they will make me react.

If there was a solution I could mix up on my own that would be great. Thanks!

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