What Causes Itching and Burning in Diabetics?

itching in diabeticsWhy does diabetes and itching seem to go hand in hand? Very few things are more annoying than feeling itching and burning sensations on your body. While any number of diabetic complications could be the cause of these sensations, the typical causes center on four distinct areas.

Itching and burning in diabetics is usually caused by peripheral nerve damage, allergic reactions various skin conditions or fungal infections.

Peripheral Nerve Damage

First, peripheral nerve damage may be the culprit. This type of neuropathy particularly affects the feet and legs. It has many symptoms including a burning sensation in the lower legs.

The usual treatment for this is to maintain proper glucose levels. If the skin is particularly sensitive, a bed cradle can be used at night to lift the sheets off of the bed, avoiding any rubbing or contact with the skin.

Allergic Reactions

Second, allergic reactions to medication can also cause itching. You can sometimes tell if you are having a reaction if you get a rash after taking medications. Obviously, if you think you think you are experiencing a reaction, please see your doctor.

Skin Problems

Third, various skin conditions associated with diabetes could be causing the problem. Bacterial infections can cause skin discomfort.

Good glucose management and antibiotics are the primary ways of treating bacterial infections. Your doctor should be able to provide a prescription if appropriate.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections also cause itchy burning rashes. This infection is yeast-like, causing conditions such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, and vaginal yeast infections. If you have this type of issue, you will need a prescription from your doctor to take care of it.

Many times, fungal infections are caused by the candida albicans fungus.

These four areas are the typical culprits if you are having burning and itching sensations. However, other problems may exist related to diabetes and itching, so check with your doctor to make sure you get the diagnosis right!


American Diabetes Association, diabetes.org, Skin Complications (Accessed December 2008).
National Institute of Health, Publication No. 08-3185, Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes, February 2008 (Accessed December 2008).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed February 2013.