Diabetes is a common diagnosis for many of our patients. While some people are born with diabetes (type 1), most of our patients develop diabetes due to medical or lifestyle issues (type 2). While both types have different catalysts, the end result is the same – the pancreas does not produce insulin which leads to high blood sugar.
Diabetes produces an array of frustrating and troublesome symptoms. One of these problems is skin issues. Because your body has high levels of sugar, your blood acts as a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. This reduces the body’s ability to heal itself, meaning that a simple cut or bruise takes forever to go away.
Additionally, diabetics typically have dry skin, which means staying moisturized is extremely essential. It’s hard to manage a diabetic skin care routine, but by following these tips, you can decrease the extent of your skin issues.
1. Use Talcum Powder
Using talcum powder may seem strange, but it’s actually an important method for keeping skin clean and dry. Any dirt or moistness gives harmful bacteria the chance to take over. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and cuts down on friction, which helps to prevent rashes and makes you more comfortable.
2. Avoid Very Hot Baths and Showers
There’s nothing much better than a steaming hot shower on a chill winter day. Unfortunately, though, one of the side effects of diabetes is neuropathy. Neuropathy is a nerve disease which causes numbness in the extremities. This means you might not be able to tell when the water is getting too hot and you are burning yourself. Additionally, spending an extended time in the water can wash away protective oils from your skin, leaving you vulnerable to even more dryness and flakiness.
3. Use a Skin Lotion to Moisturize
It’s essential to keep your skin moisturized and healthy, especially when you are done bathing. Preventing dry skin is essential, as dry or itchy skin can easily lead to an open sore or rash that becomes infected. It might help to buy a special diabetic skin lotion, but really any moisturizer will suffice. Never put lotion between your toes! This is a problem area for all diabetics, as the extremities are very susceptible to issues. Extra moisture in this area can encourage fungus to grow, which is both gross, smelly, and a threat to your foot health.
4. Use Sunscreen
You might not realize how important sunscreen is for preventing symptoms of diabetes. Sun negatively affects blood sugar levels because the skin gets injured from the sun, and needs to have time and energy to repair itself. Your body has to adjust, and sometimes sugars are thrown out of whack. Doctors recommend using at least SPF 15. If you are sensitive to certain ingredients, try buying a sunscreen free of extra additives.
5. Treat Cuts and Scrapes Immediately
Cuts and scrapes are actually very dangerous for diabetics, as bacteria can easily get into the wound and start causing trouble. Immediately wash the wound with soap and water to cleanse it. Avoid using products that have Mercurochrome antiseptic, alcohol, or iodine in them as they are too harsh for sensitive skin. Follow up with an antibiotic cream or ointment to help prevent infection, then seal the cut with a bandage or some sterile gauze.
6. Pat Skin Dry
Whenever you use a towel to rub your skin, it creates rough chafing which irritates your skin. Also, removing the water so quickly from your skin can actually help to dry it out and exacerbate dry skin issues. Instead, pat your skin so that some of the moisture is left behind for your body to absorb.
7. Protect Yourself From Cold
It’s a given that cold, windy weather causes dry skin. Prevent yourself from experiencing these effects by staying bundled up under a hat, boots, and gloves. And don’t forget about your lips! It is too easy for them to get dry, cracked, and chapped. Be sure to always have a soothing lip balm on hand that you can apply when you start to feel dry.
Managing your diabetic skin care routine is doable, but you have to stay on top of it. Forgetting to moisturize one day could mean your skin becomes dry and cracked the next. If you ever have any skin dryness or issues that you can’t control by using a simple routine, then do not hesitate to visit your dermatologist. He or she might have some added tips and can help by prescribing you medicated moisturizers if necessary.