What Is Thick Skin?
If you develop skin that has thickened over time, you might have either scleroderma diabeticorum or digital sclerosis.
In each condition, the skin might feel thicker and, in some instances, look rough or pebbled.
What Causes Thick Skin?
Some research suggests that people with diabetes might generally have thicker skin in some areas than people without diabetes. However, this does not mean they have either scleroderma diabeticorum or digital sclerosis.
Elevated blood sugar levels seem to be the major cause of skin that thickens over time.
About Scleroderma Diabeticorum
Scleroderma literally means hard skin. If you develop this condition, the skin on your upper back and the back of your neck gets thicker. This relatively rare condition can involve inflammation, blood vessel damage, and changes in your immune system.
Another condition, called sclerederma, includes tightness that might also extend to your upper arms.
About Digital Sclerosis
Digital sclerosis makes the skin on your digits (fingers and toes) and your hands and feet become thicker.
The skin might also feel tight and rather wax-like. You might also experience stiffness in your finger joints.
How Can You Treat Thick Skin?
For either condition, moisturizing lotion might help the skin feel softer and less tight. Staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water might also help.
If you feel stiffness from digital sclerosis, finger-stretching exercises might help limber things up.
How Can You Prevent Thick Skin?
To give yourself the best protection against either of these conditions,keep your blood sugar levels within the range that your doctor recommends.
Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13