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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 217-220

An observational study of cutaneous manifestations in diabetes mellitus in a tertiary care Hospital of Eastern India

1 Department of Medicine, KPC Medical College, Kolkata, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, KPC Medical College, Kolkata, India
3 Department of Endocrinology, NRS Medical College, Kolkata, India
4 Department of Dermatology, NRS Medical College, Kolkata, India
5 Department of Endocrinology, Midnapur Medical College, Kolkata, India

Date of Web Publication19-Mar-2014

Correspondence Address:
Nandini Chatterjee
358 NSC Bose Road, Kolkata - 700 047
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.129115

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Background: Diabetes mellitus and its impact on the human body have been extensively dissected over the years. However, skin which is the largest organ in the body, has received minimum attention. Therefore, this study was designed to analyze the prevalence and pattern of skin disorders among diabetic patients from Eastern region of India. Materials and Methods: This is an observational study, conducted in the General Medicine and Endocrinology departments of a Medical College and Hospital in Eastern India. The data were collected prospectively and systematically in a pre-established proforma designed by us, where clinical findings along with investigations were recorded. Results: Six hundred and eighty (680) diabetic patients were examined, there were (64.8%) male and (35.1%) were female, of them 95.3% were Type 2 diabetics while 4.7% were Type 1. Five hundred and three patients (503) out of six hundred and eighty. i.e. 73.9% were found to have skin lesions. Thirteen (13) (41%) Type1 diabetics demonstrated skin lesions commonest being diabetic xerosis, infections and diabetic hand. Among Type2 diabetics 490(75.61%) showed skin lesions. Here infections, xerosis, hair loss beneath the knees, diabetic dermopathy were the most frequent. Majority of patients (67%) had combination of more than one type of skin lesion. There was statistically significant correlation of skin lesions with duration of diabetes, however similar correlation could not be demonstrated regarding metabolic control. Conclusion: Involvement of skin is inevitable and multifarious in diabetes mellitus. Higher prevalence is seen in Type 2 diabetic population. The duration of diabetes is positively correlated with lesions and infective dermatologic manifestations were associated with higher HbA1C values.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus, Eastern India, skin lesions

How to cite this article:
Chatterjee N, Chattopadhyay C, Sengupta N, Das C, Sarma N, Pal SK. An observational study of cutaneous manifestations in diabetes mellitus in a tertiary care Hospital of Eastern India. Indian J Endocr Metab 2014;18:217-20

How to cite this URL:
Chatterjee N, Chattopadhyay C, Sengupta N, Das C, Sarma N, Pal SK. An observational study of cutaneous manifestations in diabetes mellitus in a tertiary care Hospital of Eastern India. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 May 8];18:217-20. Available from: https://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2014/18/2/217/129115

   Introduction Top

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is the most common endocrine disorder characterized by hyperglycemia. [1] Global estimate of type 2 diabetics in the year 2030 is likely to be 552 million. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) documents the total number of diabetic subjects to be around 61.3 million in India and this is further set to raise to 101.2 million by the year 2030. [2] While all other complications of diabetes have been extensively studied, the aspect of dermatological complications is relatively unexplored. There no epidemiologic data related to skin disorders in diabetics reported from Eastern India. This study was designed to analyze the prevalence and pattern of skin disorders among diabetic patients from this region.


  • To evaluate the prevalence of skin manifestations in patients with diabetes mellitus
  • To analyze pattern of skin disorders among diabetic patients from this region of Eastern India.

   Materials and Methods Top

This observational study was conducted with patients in the Departments of General Medicine and Endocrinology of a Medical College and Hospital in Eastern India from December 2010 to December 2012. All patients satisfying the diagnostic criteria for diabetes as laid down by the International Expert Committee on Diabetes [3] were taken as cases both from outdoor (first OPD visit) and indoor settings. The data were collected prospectively and systematically in a pre-established proforma (designed by the authors) after an informed written consent was obtained from all subjects. History, including age, sex, type of diabetes, duration, complications and treatment modalities were noted. The patients were divided into groups according to type of diabetes mellitus, its duration and degree of metabolic control. All the patients underwent a thorough clinical examination including ophthalmoscopy and detailed dermatological evaluation by a dermatologist. Blood and urine biochemistry, and basic radiology were performed (chest X ray, USG abdomen).Type of DM was elucidated by clinical profile and fasting C peptide level, though this approach is fallacious in certain cases but antibody testing was not feasible in our hospital set up due to infrastructural handicaps. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies as well as spot urine albumin creatinine ratio were performed as part of diabetic work up where deemed necessary on clinical suspicion. Essential microbiological and histopathological investigations of cutaneous lesions were carried out to assess dermatological involvement. Descriptive statistical analysis was done using the SPSS software version 15, The Pearson's Correlation test was used to assess the relationship of duration of DM with duration. P < 0.05 was considered significant.

   Results Top

Six hundred and eighty (680) patients were found to be diabetic. The age varied from 14 to 80 years, mean age being 46.3+/-6.7 years. Four forty one (64.8%) were male and 239(35.1%) were female. 503(73.9%) patients out of 680 manifested cutaneous lesions. Of these 330(65.6%) were male and 173(34.3%) were female (M: F = 1.9:1) [Table 1]. There were six forty eight (648) Type 2 diabetics and thirty two(32) Type 1.The duration of diabetes was 1-10 years in 290 patients. Two hundred and one(201) had >10 years of diabetes. 12 patients were newly diagnosed as diabetics. HbA1C was >7 in 504 patients of whom 343 had skin lesions. However of the 176 patients who had good diabetic control 160 had skin lesions. Various types of skin manifestations observed are shown in Tableincluding certain characteristic ones like acquired icthyosis and necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. The commonest lesion detected overall, were infections (206 i.e., 40.9%). However, the pattern of lesions was different in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Thirteen patients out of the thirty two (41%) Type 1 diabetics demonstrated skin lesions, the commonest being diabetic xerosis, infections and diabetic hand. In Type 2 diabetics 490 (75.61%) showed skin lesions. Here infections, xerosis, hair loss beneath the knees and diabetic dermopathy were the most frequent. Majority of patients (67%) had combination of more than one type of skin lesions. Relationship between skin lesions and duration of diabetes mellitus was searched using the Pearson's correlation test and it showed statistically significant positive correlation. There was poor correlation between metabolic control and dermatological manifestations of diabetes utilizing the Fischer's Exact Test with the P value being 0.42. However the mean HbA1C level among patients with infective lesions was 8.7 ± 1.4 in contrast to 7.2 ± 1.3 in case of non-infective lesions.
Table 1: Distribution of different lesions in diabetic patients

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Figure 1: Acquired icthyosis

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Figure 2: Necrobiosis lipoidica

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   Discussion Top

Cutaneous signs of diabetes mellitus generally appear after the primary disease has developed but may appear coincidentally with its onset, or even precede diabetes by many years. Although the mechanism for many diabetes-associated skin conditions remains unknown, the pathogenesis of others is linked to abnormal carbohydrate metabolism, other altered metabolic pathways, atherosclerosis, microangiopathy, neuron degeneration, and impaired host mechanisms. [4] Association of at least 30% of patients with diabetes mellitus with some type of cutaneous involvement was observed during the course of their chronic disease. [5],[6] Most documented studies have shown the incidence of cutaneous disorders associated with diabetes to be between 30% and 71%. [5],[6],[7],[8] In this present study 73.9% of diabetic patients had one or more cutaneous manifestations. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes are classified into four categories: 1.Skin lesions with strong-to-weak association with diabetes (necrobiosis lipiodica, diabetic dermopathy, diabetic bullae, yellow skin, eruptive xanthomas, perforating disorders, acanthosis nigricans, oral leucoplakia, lichen planus), 2.infections (bacterial, fungal), 3.cutaneous manifestations of diabetic complications (microangiopathy, macroangiopathy, neuropathy), and 4.skin reactions to diabetic treatment (sulphonylureas or insulin). [6] Mahajan et al., reported cutaneous infections in 54.69% of diabetics in their study group. [8] In the present study, infections formed the largest group (40.9%). Xerosis was the second most common manifestation (34.4%). Most surprisingly loss of hair over the shin was observed in 26.6% of cases, the underlying pathogenesis have been attributed to macroangiopathy and peripheral vascular disease. [9] Rao and Pai found that pruritus was the main presenting symptom and was noted in 60.23% patients in their series. [10] In our series almost 50% of the patients presented pruritus as the primary symptom. Diabetic dermopathy (12.7%) has been reported as 4 th common cutaneous presentation. Diabetic dermopathy is the most common cutaneous marker of diabetes mellitus presenting as single or multiple well-demarcated brown atrophic macules, predominantly on the shins. Diabetic dermopathy and diabetic retinopathy are both considered by some authors as manifestations of diabetic microangiopathy Retinopathy was found to be more common (50%) in patients with dermangiopathy than in those without it (6.2%). [11],[12]

Thirty two patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus were observed in the present work. Skin lesions were noted in 41% cases which are lesser than that documented by Pavlovic et al., (68%). Fallacies are possible due to the lower number of type 1 subject in the present study. [13] The overall prevalence of lesions were found to be higher in type 2 diabetics (75.6% vs 41%) 6 which corroborates with other studies where prevalence ranges from 61.2% to 85.4%. [6],[14],[15]

Our study revealed positive correlation of skin lesions with disease duration.According to a study from Saudi Arabia, for those patients having diabetes of less than 5 years' duration, the incidence of skin manifestations was 80.6%; for those having diabetes for more than 5 years, the incidence was 98%. [16] This difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001). The skin manifestations that had a statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) in prevalence between the two durational groups were gangrene, diabetic dermopathy, paresthesia, diabetic feet, diabetic bullae and fungal infections.

The present study failed to show correlation between good metabolic control and skin lesions. However the mean HbA1C level was higher in patients with infective lesions (8.7 ± 1.4 in contrast to 7.2 ± 1.3).

Opinion is divided regarding this issue. According to an Indian study in 2008, [17] no correlation was demonstrated between glucose control and dermatologic manifestations. But an Iranian study [18] as well as a study by Rayfield [19] showed definite relationship between foot ulcers and fungal infections with HbA1C levels. Limitations of our study Ours is an observational study with a modest number of patients. Classification of diabetes was done primarily on clinical grounds, as investigations like antibody testing could not be performed due to resource constraints. Lastly, histopathological examinations were done at the discretion of our consultant dermatologist, especially for lesions with diagnostic ambiguity. (i.e not all lesions). A total of 43 lesions were biopsied.

   Conclusion Top

Dermatologic manifestation is a highly prevalent complication of diabetes mellitus which affects quality of life and adds to the heavy burden of therapeutic costs. It is found more frequently among Type 2 diabetics and increasing duration of diabetes increases the possibility of skin involvement. Impaired diabetic control as evidenced by higher HbA1C levels was found among patients with infections. However, prospective long term studies with larger number of subjects are needed to explore these issues further.

   Proforma Top





Date of admission/ examination


Presenting complaints

Duration of diabetes

Past history

Personal history

Family history

Treatment history




General Survey


Systemic Examination






Fasting C peptide level

Urine RE/ME



CXR PA view

USG Abdomen

Spot urine creatinine


Skin lesion infective lesions- culture sensitivity

Non-infective- biopsy

   References Top

1.American Diabetes Association. Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care 2009;32:62-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Sicree R, Shaw J, Zimmet P. Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. In: Gan D, editor. Diabetes atlas. International Diabetes Federation. 5 th ed. Belgium: International Diabetes Federation; 2011. p. 15-103.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.International Expert Committee. International Expert Committee report on the role of the A1C assay in the diagnosis of diabetes. Diabetes Care 2009;32:1327-34.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Bhat YJ, Gupta V, Kudyar RP. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus. Int J Diabetes Dev Ctries 2006;26:152-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Giligor RS, Lazarus GS. Skin manifestations of diabetes mellitus. In: Rifkin H, Raskin P, editors. Diabetes Mellitus. Louana: Brady Co.;1981. p. 313-21.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Romano G, Morretti G, Di benedetto. A. Skin lesions in diabetes mellitus: Prevalence and clinical correlations. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 1998;39:101-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Sehgal VN, Sanker P. Some aspects of skin diseases and diabetes mellitus. Indian J Dermatol Venereol 1965;31:264-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Mahajan S, Koranne RV, Sharma SK. Cutaneous manifestation of diabetes melitus. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2003;69:105-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
9.Haroon TS. Diabetes and skin: A review. Scott Med J 1974;19:257-67.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Rao GS, Pai GS. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus: A clinical study. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1997;63:232-4.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
11.Morgan AJ, Schwartz RA. Diabetic dermopathy: A subtle sign with grave implications. J Am Acad Dermatol 2008;58:447-51.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Binkley GW. Dermopathy in diabetes mellitus. Arch Dermatol 1965;92:106-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Pavloviæ MD, Milenkoviæ T, Diniæ M, Misoviæ M, Dakoviæ D, Todoroviæ S, et al . The prevalence of cutaneous manifestations in young patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007;30:1964-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Sasmaz S, Buyukbese MA, Cetinkaya A, Celik M, Arican O. The prevalence of skin disorders in type-2 diabetic patients. Int J Dermatol 2005;3:1.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Wahid Z, Kanjee A. Cutaneous manifestation of diabetes mellitus. J Pak Med Assoc 1998;48:304-5.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Shahzad M, Al Robaee A, Al Shobaili HA, Alzolibani AA, Al Marshood AA, Al Moteri B. Skin manifestations in diabetic patients attending a diabetic clinic in the Qassim region, Saudi Arabia. Med Princ Pract 2011;20:137-41.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Timshina DK, Thappa DM, Agrawal A. A clinical study of dermatoses in diabetes to establish its markers. Indian J Dermatol 2012;57:20-5.  Back to cited text no. 17
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
18.Hosseini MS, Ehsani AH, Hosseinpanah F, Azizi F, Salami M, Khedmat H. Skin lesions in type 2 diabetic patients. Iran J Dermatol 2008;11:113-7.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Rayfield EJ, Ault MJ, Keusch GT, Brothers MJ, Nechemias C, Smith H. Infection and diabetes: The case for glucose control. Am J Med 1982;72:439-50.  Back to cited text no. 19


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