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Health Complications of Diabetes

Digital Sclerosis

Digital sclerosis is a little known but common condition linked with insulin dependent (type-1) diabetes. Digital refers to digits such as fingers and toes and sclerosis means hardening. Digital sclerosis (also called "thick skin and stiff joints") affects up to 35 percent of people with insulin-dependent diabetes. Although it occasionally occurs before the onset of diabetes, it more commonly develops 10 years or more after diabetes is diagnosed.

Digital sclerosis progresses very slowly, and most people don't notice any symptoms. Even when there are symptoms, it can easily be missed. The dermis produces more collagen than normal, which leads to the telltale thickening of the skin. If you have digital sclerosis, some of the skin on the backs of your hands, most often on your middle and ring fingers, will look and feel thick.

The affected skin may not sweat normally, because the excess collagen is squeezing the sweat glands shut. The skin will not be a different color, but it will look waxy or shiny. Digital sclerosis can cause pain which leads to stiff fingers, and an off-and-on ache in your finger joints.

Digital sclerosis is sometimes misdiagnosed as Lyme disease, arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma (another skin disease). These are serious diseases, so it's important to see your doctor if you have symptoms. Rarely, digital sclerosis causes joint stiffness in knees, ankles, or elbows. Some people have joint stiffness but not skin changes. In a small percentage of cases, the disease progresses. The fingers of people with severe digital sclerosis bend and can't be straightened.

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The above information is provided for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace competent health care advice received from a knowledgeable healthcare professional. You are urged to seek healthcare advice for the treatment of any illness or disease.
Health Canada and the FDA (USA) have not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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