If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably know that you’re going to have to learn about insulin shots, checking your blood sugar, and balancing your diet correct- but did you ever think about how diabetes may affect your skin? As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. Here’s how to take care of your skin as a diabetic.
First, know the potential skin issues that you might face as a diabetic. High glucose levels can lead to dry skin, which often leads to other skin disorders and/or itching and cracking. Itching and cracking can complicate the process of healing from open wounds, which can lead to infection. Having a weakened immune system and reduced blood flow can also lead to bacterial or fungal infections. In rare cases, diabetics may experience yellow skin or rosacea from insulin use.
Next, take the maxim “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to heart; many of the skin conditions linked to diabetes can be prevented before they occur with some basic skincare techniques. Bathe in warm (not hot) water daily, using mild, moisturizing soap to prevent dryness. In the winter, cold, dry air is the norm; keep your home more humid during these months, while moisturizing regularly in especially cold, windy weather. Check your skin regularly for any abnormalities, and maintain a controlled blood pressure for good circulation. Finally, add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet (such as salmon), and drink lots of fluids to keep your skin hydrated.
You may also want to build a skincare first aid kit in case of scrapes or other skin conditions. This kit can include:
· Antibacterial ointment
· Petroleum jelly
· Gauze or non-stick pads
· Hypoallergenic or paper tape
· Prepackaged cleansing fragrance-free towelettes
· Self-adherent elastic wrap from Coban
Finally, don’t forget that your skin issues can also affect your feet. Many diabetics see foot problems such as blisters, cracked feet, infections, or skin conditions caused by a lack of circulation or diabetic nerve damage. You can prevent problems with your feet by wearing shoe inserts, maintaining healthy glucose levels, examining your feet daily for any damage, and seeing your doctor for a foot examination once a year that focuses on circulation and sensation.
Skin issues may be an unexpected side effect of diabetes, but with the proper prevention and care, you can avoid them and keep your skin healthy with diabetes.