Photoessay: The Skin and Diabetes Mellitus

by A Huntley

Dermatology Online Journal, December 1995
Volume 1, Number 2

Side Effects of Insulin

fat atrophy


Daily injection of insulin rarely causes problems involving the skin. The two instances of note, however, are infection and fat atrophy.

fat atrophy

Occasionally insulin injections will result in atrophy of subcutaneous fat at the site of injection. The resulting depression in the skin may be disturbing to the patient.

Fig 68. Abdominal region of an insulin-dependent diabetic demonstrating a focal area of fat atrophy as a complication of insulin injection. Involvement presents as depressions in the contour of the skin, secondary to loss of fat at the site of injections.


Surface bacteria may be introduced into the deeper layers of the skin during injections. This occasionally results in cellulitis or abscess formation.

Fig 69. Patient with diabetes mellitus and an abscess on the arm at the site of insulin administration.

All contents copyright (C), 1995.
Dermatology Online Journal
University of California Davis