Does Diabetes Cause Dark Knuckles?

In this article, we will explore the link between dark knuckles and diabetes and what treatment options are available for…(continue reading)

If you have dark knuckles you may be wondering what it means and what you can do about it. Diabetes is a common cause of dark knuckles, but other medical conditions can also cause this symptom.

In this article, we will explore the link between dark knuckles and diabetes and what treatment options are available for you.

We will also discuss ways to help prevent dark knuckles in the future and list any other health conditions that can cause them.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The most common symptom of uncontrolled diabetes is high blood sugar levels, also called blood glucose levels, caused by a lack of the hormone insulin or due to your cells developing insulin resistance. Other common symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • An increased risk of infections
  • Blurry vision
  • Wounds or sores that take longer than normal to heal

If you have any of the above symptoms, please see your doctor or health care provider for medical care and a diagnosis.

Does diabetes cause dark knuckles?

Dark knuckles can be a symptom of diabetes and prediabetes but it is not always indicative of either. If you have prediabetes there will likely be no signs or symptoms of it and the only way to know for sure is through tests and a diagnosis by your doctor.

However, if the dark knuckles are a symptom of prediabetes you can help reverse the condition by making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Why diabetes and prediabetes cause dark knuckles is unknown although there is a theory that too much insulin can affect your skin cell growth.

If you have type 2 diabetes you are also at a higher risk of developing the skin condition acanthosis nigricans, which develops into dark patches of skin in certain areas, typically on the back of the neck, groin, or underarms.

The skin may appear as dark velvety patches and also have a foul smell, too.

Other risk factors for acanthosis nigricans besides insulin resistance include obesity, being African American, Native American, or Latino, or having a family history of the condition.

If you have acanthosis nigricans you may have diabetes although you can have the condition without being diabetic.

Diabetes and your Feet

What other medical conditions can cause dark knuckles?

Diabetes, prediabetes, and acanthosis nigricans are not the only medical conditions that can cause dark knuckles.

Other medical conditions that can cause dark knuckles include the following:

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease is a rare disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone.

The most common symptom of Addison’s disease is a darkening of the skin called hyperpigmentation which can occur anywhere on your body but typically starts in places where there are skin creases like on your knuckles or near scars.

Other autoimmune disorders besides type 1 diabetes

Autoimmune disorders occur when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. There are a variety of different autoimmune disorders that can cause dark knuckles, such as lupus, celiac disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, and vitiligo.

Polycystic ovary syndrome 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of childbearing age. It occurs when the ovaries produce too many male hormones in women.

One symptom of PCOS is darkening of the skin, typically on the neck, chest, underarms, or where there are skin folds such as the knuckles.

B-12 deficiency

If you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency your body may react by darkening your knuckles.

A vitamin B-12 deficiency can be caused by a variety of things, including not getting enough vitamin B-12 in your diet, pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disorder that affects your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B-12), alcohol abuse, or certain medications.

The darkened knuckles will likely go away after you correct the deficiency.

Dermatomyositis

Dermatomyositis is a rare autoimmune disorder that causes muscle weakness and a skin rash. It typically affects children but can occur in adults as well.

The skin rash associated with dermatomyositis can cause darkening of the skin, particularly on the face, knuckles, elbows, knees, or chest. The rash will be blue/purple or red in color.

Side effects of medications

Some medications can cause darkening of the skin as a side effect.

These include certain birth control pills, growth hormone therapy, estrogen therapies, and insulin among others. If you are taking any medication and develop dark knuckles as a side effect you need to speak to your doctor about switching to an alternative drug.

Scleroderma

Scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, is a rare autoimmune disorder that causes the skin to harden and tighten due to excess collagen.

Scleroderma can cause skin darkening on the hands and fingers as well as Raynaud’s phenomenon which is when the blood vessels in your fingers and toes constrict in response to cold weather or stress. In extreme cases, scleroderma can cause the tips of your fingers to turn blue or purple due to poor blood flow (called digital ischemia).

What are the treatment options for dark knuckles?

The treatment for dark knuckles will depend on the underlying cause.

If your dark knuckles are due to diabetes, then treating diabetes will usually also treat the dark knuckles which may involve making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, and taking medication to control blood sugar levels.

Another medical condition, such as an autoimmune disorder, may also be the cause and treatment will focus on the underlying condition which may also involve taking medication or making lifestyle changes.

If dark knuckles are a side effect of medication, then speak to your doctor about switching to a different medication. In some cases, dark knuckles may not require treatment and may go away on their own.

Home remedies

If you treat the underlying cause of dark knuckles and they do not go away, there are some home remedies you can try to help lighten the skin. These include:

  • Applying lemon juice on a cotton swab to the area daily
  • Make a paste with water and baking soda and apply it to the affected knuckles for 10-20 minutes daily
  • Use a moisturizing cream every day to help prevent discoloration
  • Use sunscreen whenever you are in the sun to avoid darkening your skin even more

Other methods have been shown to help with skin lightening in some studies although more research is needed to come to any firm conclusions. These include:

  • Turmeric
  • Drinking certain types of tea that have epigallocatechin gallate, a type of catechin, has been shown in one study to help lighten the skin
  • Vitamin C since it is an antioxidant that has been shown to help keep your skin healthy
  • Soy
  • Licorice extract
  • Arbutin
  • Kojic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Aloe leaf extract
  • Ellagic acid
  • Lignin peroxidase

Please read all the ingredients of anything you buy to ensure they contain these ingredients and always consult with your doctor before starting any new treatments.

Medications

There are also medications that can help lighten dark knuckles.

These include keratolytics (including retinoids that increase the production of collagen), topical vitamin D solutions, and melatonin.

Some of these are available as prescription medications while others can be found as over-the-counter medications and you need to speak to your doctor or dermatologist before starting any new treatment.

Are there any ways to prevent dark knuckles?

There are a few ways you can prevent dark knuckles from getting worse or developing in the first place. Whenever you are in the sun you need to wear sunscreen to avoid darkening your skin even more.

If you have diabetes, make sure to keep your blood sugar levels under control to help prevent dark knuckles by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining healthy body weight, and taking any medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Finally, if medication for another health issue is causing darkened skin you need to consult with your doctor to determine if there is an alternative one without these side effects. Depending on the underlying cause, there may not be a way to prevent dark knuckles.

Summary

Dark knuckles can be caused by several different factors including diabetes.

Treatment for them will focus on treating the underlying medical issues although, in some cases, the darkening of knuckles may not require treatment and may go away on their own.

There are also home remedies and prescription medications that can help lighten dark knuckles and you need to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatments.

Preventing dark knuckles is not always possible but you can try to avoid them by taking precautions such as wearing sunscreen, switching any medications that may be causing it, and keeping your blood sugar levels under control if you have diabetes.

If you have any more questions regarding dark knuckles or diabetes please talk to your doctor or dermatologist.

References and sources:

Mayo Clinic

American Academy of Dermatology Association

Healthline

WebMD

MedicalNewsToday

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Jacqueline Hensler and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera. 

fact checked and medically reviewed

Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?

There’s a longstanding correlation between sugar and diabetes, but is sugar really the villain behind your high blood glucose level? Find out here.

Read More »

Can Crocs Help Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

We will also look at whether or not Crocs are good for treating plantar fasciitis and what to look for when purchasing Crocs for this condition. Finally, we will provide some tips on how to prevent plantar fasciitis altogether.

Read More »

Does Diabetes Cause Hammertoes?

When you have uncontrolled diabetes it affects the blood sugar levels in your body and can lead to a variety of health problems including hammertoe. In this article, we will discuss hammertoes and how they are related to diabetes.

Read More »

How Does Diabetes Cause Leg, Foot, and Toe Pain?

In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and the effective treatment options available for those who suffer from the condition while also highlighting its causes and giving you tips on how to prevent it.

Read More »

Diabetic Nerve Pain in Ankle, Feet and Legs

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that results from damage to the nerves due to high blood sugar levels and nerve damage can cause a wide range of symptoms including pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and weakness. In some cases, diabetic neuropathy can lead to serious complications such as diabetic foot ulcers.

Read More »

Best Foot Soak for Neuropathy

In this article, we will discuss foot soaks and other natural home remedies for neuropathy while also exploring other treatment options available to if you suffer from this condition.

Read More »

Can Diabetes Cause Headaches?

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about how diabetes and headaches are connected as we will cover the different types of headaches that can be caused by high blood sugar and low blood sugar, as well as other ways diabetes can lead to headache pain.

Read More »

Learn more about an Insulin Resistance Diet

In this article, we will discuss the importance of diet for insulin resistance, provide some tips on how to follow a healthy diet, and tell you which foods you need to avoid to help you best combat your insulin resistance.

Read More »

What is Prediabetes?

In this article, we will discuss what prediabetes is, the symptoms of prediabetes, how prediabetes is diagnosed, and the treatment options for prediabetes.

Read More »
a1c

Fructosamine to A1C: How are they related?  

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world. It can be difficult to manage, but with the right tools and information, it is possible to live a healthy life with diabetes. One of the most important tools for managing diabetes is understanding fructosamine levels and hemoglobin A1C levels. In this article, we will explain what fructosamine and hemoglobin A1C are, and discuss the relationship between these two measures. We will also provide tips on how to test your fructosamine and hemoglobin A1C levels correctly.

Read More »

Prediabetes weight loss: Can it help?

If you have prediabetes, you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes because prediabetes means that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, prediabetes can often be treated with weight loss. In this article, we will explore the relationship between prediabetes and weight loss and find out if losing weight is an effective treatment for prediabetes. We will also cover all other treatment options available to you if you have prediabetes and what causes it.

Read More »
Gabapentin weight gain?

Does Gabapentin cause weight gain? Learn more about the side effects.

Gabapentin is a prescription drug that is used to treat various medical conditions such as seizures, restless legs syndrome, and nerve pain and it belongs to a class of anticonvulsant medication. Gabapentin works by decreasing the number of seizures you have, relieving pain, and improving your sleep among several other benefits. If you take gabapentin you also may experience weight gain as a side effect. In this article, we will discuss how gabapentin causes weight gain, how to stop it, and other potential risks associated with taking this medication.

Read More »

Prediabetes Treatment

If prediabetes is not treated, it can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The good news is that prediabetes is treatable and you can prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes by following the prediabetes treatment options listed.

Read More »

Prediabetes Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Options

Prediabetes is a condition that affects millions of people in the United States and it is defined as having a blood sugar level that is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. When you have prediabetes, it often leads to type 2 diabetes if it is not treated. In this article, we will discuss what prediabetes is, the symptoms of prediabetes, the causes of prediabetes, and the treatment options for prediabetes among other topics.

Read More »
The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet Journal: 2nd Edition

The essential companion to the newly revised Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet book, The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet Journal will help you track your daily and weekly progress as you lose weight, lower your blood sugar, and improve your overall lifestyle.

Top Destinations

Recent Articles

60-DAY MONEY BACK Guarantee
Nature's Secret for Healthy Blood Sugar
10/10 Our Score

The #1 Rated Blood Sugar Formula, 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

BeLiv's proprietary  blend of 24 powerful ingredients supports healthy blood sugar in normal ranges

  • Natural Formula
  • Plant Ingredients
  • Non-GMO
  • Easy To Swallow
  • No Stimulants
  • Non-Habit Forming

Stay in Touch

Share On

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

What’s the Average Week of Delivery With Gestational Diabetes?

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes can send you searching for answers. Find out what you should know about managing

What Is a Good Gestational Diabetes Diet To Follow?

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

Newly diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Diabetic.org is here to offer guidance for one important starting point: the ideal gestational diabetes

The Ultimate Gestational Diabetes Vegetarian Meal Plan

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

A healthy diet is important to manage gestational diabetes. We look at some of the best vegetarian meal plans

Join Our Newsletter

Get exclusive offers, advice, and tips from Diabetic.org delivered to your inbox.