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A Journal on Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2001 April;136(2):123-34

language: Italian

Skin and diabetes mellitus

Bongiorno M. R., Cannatella L., Aricò M.

Università degli Studi - Palermo Istituto di Clinica Dermosifilopatica


Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia caused by a defect in insulin secretion and insulin action. The chronic hyperglycemia is associated with long term damage, dysfunction of various organs especially kidneys, nerves, heart, eyes and skin. An international expert committee was established in May 1995 to review the scientific literature since 1979 of the National Diabetes Data Group. The expert committee proposed a classification scheme reflecting its etiology and/or pathogenesis: 1) Type 1 diabetes: A-Immune mediated, B- Idiopathic; 2) Type 2 diabetes; 3) Other specific types of diabetes; 4) Gestational diabetes mellitus. This article reviews the cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus. The cutaneous manifestations may be considered as: 1) Specific skin diseases with a strong association with chronic degenerative complication of diabetes mellitus (diabetic dermopathy, erythema, erysipelas- like areas, bullous lesions, thickened skin, scleredema adultorum, diabetic foot, xanthomatosis). 2) Cutaneous disorders correlated with acute metabolic derangements (infections). 3) Cutaneous non-specific diseases related with diabetes mellitus (necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, acanthosis nigricans, ecc). 4) Cutaneous manifestations correlated with diabetic treatment (lipo-atrophy). Glycation of tissue proteins and other macromolecules and excess production of polyol compounds from glucose are among the mechanisms thought to produce tissue damage from chronic hyperglycemia.

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