Q: My mother is 54 years old and is a diabetic but walks regularly for exercise and eats a healthy diet most of the time. As of late, she has developed a lot of itching all over her body that is so intolerable she can't even sleep. Do you know what this might be?A: On rare occasions, diabetes is associated with itching. The reasons behind this are not clear. It might be because diabetes affects the nervous system and alters the perception of sensation in the body. It can also be due to dry skin and fungal skin infections, both of which are more common among diabetics. Individuals who have diabetes can also have other skin conditions that cause itching such as urticaria and lichen planus.
— Samira, United Arab Emirates
Before concluding that diabetes is causing your mother's itching, a physician should perform a thorough investigation for skin, gall bladder, kidney, and blood disorders; cancer; parasitic infections; and neurological and psychiatric illnesses. Itching can usually be treated by choosing milder soaps and detergents or using topical creams such as capsaicin, Elidel, or steroid ointment. In some cases, UV light therapy, antidepressants, and minor tranquilizers will help relieve the discomfort.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Type 2 Diabetes Center.