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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Small Brown Patches
July 2000

Q. I have small brown patches on my knees and my ankles. My local dermatologist said that people with diabeties get these dark spots on their legs. I have had my sugar tested numerous of times and the results are always normal(19). Is there anything I can do about this? Are there any medications that will help fade these patches?

A. While people with diabetes can get dark spots on their legs, most dark spots are not associated with diabetes. Your recent sugar tests have been normal. However, a value of 19 doesn't make sense to me (a normal glucose is about 80 to 120, depending on your laboratory). Still, if your diabetes tests have been normal then you don't have diabetes.

There are many other causes of dark patches on the skin, and there are things that can be done for them. Of course, you first want to make sure that the spots are nothing indicating a serious problem. Presumably, the dermatologist does not believe that this is a major concern. There are certain skin bleaches that can lighten dark areas, but this is somewhat delicate because they can also lighten the surrounding skin giving you light patches instead of dark patches. I would discuss this option with your local dermatologist.

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