Scleredema diabeticorum is a skin condition that occurs in some people with diabetes. It causes skin to become thick and hard on the back of the neck, shoulders, arms, and upper back.
Scleredema of Buschke; Scleredema adultorum; Diabetic thick skin; Scleredema; Diabetes - scleredema; Diabetic - scleredema; Diabetic dermopathy
Scleredema diabeticorum is thought to be a rare disorder, but some people think that the diagnosis is often missed. The exact cause is unknown. The condition tends to occur in men with poorly-controlled diabetes who:
Skin changes happen slowly. Over time, you may notice:
In severe cases, thickened skin can make it hard to move the upper body. It also can make deep breathing difficult.
Some people find it hard to make a clenched fist because the skin on the back of the hand is too tight.
Exams and Tests
Your provider will perform a physical exam. You will be asked about your medical history and symptoms.
Tests may include:
There is no specific treatment for scleredema. Treatments may include:
The condition cannot be cured. Treatment may improve movement and breathing.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if you:
If you have the scleredema, call your provider if you:
Keeping blood sugar levels within range helps prevent diabetes complications. However, scleredema can occur, even when blood sugar is well controlled.
Your provider may discuss adding medicines that allow insulin to work better in your body so that your insulin doses can be reduced.
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Flischel AE, Helms SE, Brodell RT. Scleredema. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson IH, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 224.
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Review Date: 1/24/2019
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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