Type 2 diabetes can reveal itself by acanthosis nigricans, which is hyperpigmentation of the skin. Specifically, it’ll be an area of dark, velvety discolouration, most commonly seen in armpits, the groin area and the back of the neck. The affected skin can also become thickened.
The skin changes gradually appear and the affected area may also have an odour or itch.
If its appearance, smell or texture becomes too much of an issue, a doctor may recommend the following:
- Prescription creams to lighten or soften the affected areas
- Antibacterial soaps, used gently
- Topical antibiotic
- Oral acne medications
- Laser therapy to reduce the skin’s thickness
Acanthosis nigricans tends to appear when somebody has become resistant to insulin – a clear sign of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is caused when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin, or makes defunct insulin.
Normally, in healthy individuals, insulin is used by the body to allow glucose (sugar) – broken down from the food you eat – to enter the cells and be used as energy.
Without functional insulin, or enough insulin, glucose (sugar) stays in the blood and, every time you eat, more glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood as it can’t enter the cells or be used as energy.
This explains why one of the early signs of type 2 diabetes is feeling more tired than usual.
For those with type 2 diabetes, cells within the body aren’t getting the glucose (sugar) they need to use as energy and so, of course, people with the condition would feel more tired.
Other common symptoms of type 2 diabetes, as listed by Diabetes UK are:
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
- Being really thirsty
- Losing weight without trying to
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
- Blurred vision
With type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels continue to rise (without treatment).
High blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) can result in permanent damage to parts of the body, such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
Diabetes UK provide a useful online tool to check your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Just make sure you have a tape measure, or string, available and if your results show that you’re at a moderate or high risk, visit your local GP clinic.
Sometimes a healthcare professional may tell you that you have “borderline diabetes”.
Other terms – that mean the same thing – which may be used instead are: prediabetes, impaired fasting glucose (IFG), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), impaired glucose regulation (IGR) and non-diabetic hyperglycaemia.
Essentially, this means you’re at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as your blood sugars are higher than normal but aren’t high enough (yet) to be diagnosed with the condition.
Diabetes UK’s Director of Healthcare and Professional Liaison, Simon O’Neill said: “Your first question might be ‘does this mean I have Type 2 diabetes?’, ‘does this mean I’ll definitely get Type 2 diabetes?’ or even ‘does this mean I’m in the clear?’
“The answer to all of these is no. You don’t have Type 2 diabetes at the moment, but you do need to act now if you want to try and avoid it.”
There are a few things you could do to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes from developing.
For starters, a healthy diet can work wonders with keeping the condition at bay.
There are five main food groups to know about: fruit and vegetables, starchy foods (such as bread, pasta and rice), protein (like beans, pulses and nuts), dairy, oils and spreads.
It’s important to try to eat different foods from each of the main food groups every day.
Then there’s exercise – if you’re overweight, losing just five percent of your body weight can significantly reduce your risk.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help limit type 2 diabetes from developing, and can result in numerous health benefits.