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'Unusual' red flag sign of diabetes that can appear on the legs – what to look for


Diabetes is a serious and life-changing health condition that causes blood sugar levels to become too high. There are two types of diabetes, known as type 1 and type 2.

While it is not exactly known what causes type 1 diabetes, type 2 is often linked to factors such as being overweight and not exercising enough. But it can also run in families.

Currently there is no cure for diabetes, however, there are treatments available to help ease symptoms and keep it under control. Therefore, catching any early warning signs of the condition is vital.

It might actually be that you don’t have full-blown diabetes but pre-diabetes, where your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be. This means you are on track to develop type 2 diabetes.

Some symptoms of diabetes are more commonly known than others. Feeling thirsty and needing to urinate are such examples.

But there are some unusual warning signs that can appear in the most unlikely places.

Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk , Doctor Paul Ettlinger, GP at The London General Practice, revealed that losing hair in a certain part of the body could signal diabetes.

Specifically, hair loss on the shins is a symptom, he said.

He explained: “Tell tale signs to look for are if you have tingling and numbness in the feet, hair loss on the shins (due to the poor blood supply), shiny smooth skin and loss of sweating resulting from damage to the autonomic nerves (those which are involuntary and control body functions), sores and cramps in the calves (again due to lack of blood supply).

“So, any of these could indicate that you might be diabetic.”

This is backed by information reported by Medical News Today.

“Diabetes can also cause hair loss on the legs,” it says.

“Over time, diabetes-related damage to the blood vessels can result in peripheral artery disease (PAD).

“In PAD, a fatty deposit called plaque builds up in the blood vessels inside the legs. This interferes with blood flow and, consequently, hair growth.”

Dr Ettlinger revealed some other unusual signs of diabetes to be wary of.

“Numb toes can be a sign that your blood sugar has been too high, for too long,” he said.

“The condition is called peripheral neuropathy and is when the nerve fibres are damaged, in particular the ends of the longest nerve fibres which are often the first to deteriorate meaning the feet are susceptible.

“Symptoms will range from burning or prickling to shocking pain.

“High blood sugar can also cause people to lose sensitivity in their feet – from the ends of their toes to their heel. Loss of feeling can mean that any wound or damage to the feet and toes (from a blister to an ingrown toenail) can escalate into something worse.

“To prevent further infection, people need to monitor their blood sugar and regularly check their feet.”

The NHS lists symptoms of diabetes as:

  • Urinating more than usual
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

If you experience any symptoms you should speak to your GP.

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