Biophysical characteristics of skin in diabetes: a controlled study
Background Cutaneous complications are common in diabetes. Previous assays suggest that hyperglycemia and decreased insulin signal are involved in the impairment of skin function. The aim of this study was to evaluate the biophysical characteristics of skin in patients with diabetes mellitus and compares them with healthy non-diabetic controls.
Objective To measure biophysical characteristic of skin including transepidermal water loss (TEWL), water content, sebum and skin elasticity in patients with diabetes mellitus and compare them with healthy non-diabetic controls.
Methods This case-control study was conducted on 38 patients with diabetes and 40 age- and sex-matched healthy people. The biophysical properties of skin including stratum corneum (SC) hydration, sebum content, TEWL and skin elasticity were measured and compared between the two groups at three different locations of the body.
Results The measurement of SC hydration and TEWL showed no significant difference between diabetics and controls. The skin surface lipids on the forehead but not other sites were significantly lower in the diabetics than in the controls. Acoustic wave propagation speed, a measurement related to skin elasticity, was significantly lower in forearm and forehead of diabetics.
Conclusion Diabetes affects some functional properties of epidermis and dermis that may responsible for many cutaneous manifestations of diabetes. These results suggest that patients with diabetes mellitus tend to show a normal hydration state of the SC together with decreased sebaceous gland activity and impaired skin elasticity, without any impairment of the SC barrier function.