Diabetes and Skin Care: How to Take Care of Your Skin as a Diabetic

With a diabetes diagnosis comes a new lifestyle, one filled with an altered diet, insulin injections, and monitoring blood sugar- but did you ever consider how your skincare routine might need to change? As many as one-third of diabetics will have a related skin disorder at some point in their lives. However, with basic skincare techniques and prevention methods, you may be able to avoid most of these ailments.

Diabetes often has side effects that can cause skin issues. For example, increased glucose levels often lead to dry skin, which can precede other skin disorders such as rashes, itching, cracking, and difficulty healing from wounds. Diabetics also tend to have weakened immune systems and restrictive blood flow, making them more prone to bacterial and fungal infections. In rare cases, insulin injections might cause yellow skin or rosacea, since insulin works in much the same way as a growth hormone.

In order to prevent many of the skin conditions linked to diabetes, diabetics should adopt smart skincare routines and techniques. For example, make sure to bathe with mild soap and warm water (rather than hot water) to minimize dryness. During the winter months, when the air is dry and windy, moisturize your skin regularly and keep your home humid. Try to avoid scratches and bruises, especially to arms and legs; when cuts and scrapes inevitably occur, wash the affected area with mild soap and water, and then wrap it with a sterile bandage.

You might also want to keep a first aid kit specifically for skin in your home. This kit can include antibacterial ointment, petroleum jelly, non-stick pads, paper tape, cleansing fragrance-free towelettes, and Coban self-adherent elastic wrap.

Diabetics may also encounter foot problems, such as blisters, cracked feet, infections, or other skin conditions from a lack of circulation or diabetic nerve damage. Go the extra mile to prevent foot problems by wearing shoe inserts and examining your feet regularly for any damage.

While it’s true that having diabetes can impact your skin, you can prevent many common skin disorders associated with diabetes by adopting basic skincare techniques. If you have recurring problems, see your dermatologist.

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