Skin Infections and Outpatient Burn Management: Skin Infections in Patients With Diabetes

FP Essent. 2020 Feb:489:21-26.


Diabetes is associated with many complications, including foot ulcers. Individuals with diabetes have a 15% to 25% likelihood of developing a foot ulcer in their lifetime. The pathophysiologic mechanisms are multifactorial but the major etiologic factors are peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy. Foot examinations are recommended at least annually for patients with diabetes to assess the risk of foot ulcers and to detect, diagnose, and manage them. Management includes avoidance of walking, weight-bearing limitation, use of therapeutic footwear, use of dressings and debridement, and antibiotics. Due to immune dysfunction, diabetic neuropathy, and poor circulation, patients with diabetes are at increased risk of other types of infections. These include erythrasma, candidiasis, paronychia, onychomycosis, necrotizing fasciitis, Fournier gangrene, otitis externa, and nontuberculous mycobacterial skin infections. A high index of suspicion is required to diagnose these conditions. Patient evaluation may include a detailed physical examination, imaging, laboratory tests, and biopsies and cultures. Management may involve mechanical or surgical debridement, topical and oral antibiotics, and abscess drainage.

MeSH terms

  • Burns* / complications
  • Debridement
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Humans
  • Outpatients
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious* / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious* / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious* / etiology