Diabetes and Skin Care
Diabetes is a disorder of the body’s immune system in which the body has trouble regulating its blood glucose or blood sugar levels. Although diabetes affects millions of Americans and continues to grow, medical advancements have opened the door to several treatment options that have eased the burden of living with this condition. Furthermore, proper management of diabetes through lifestyle changes makes a significant impact on the severity of the condition. For instance, if a person with diabetes neglects proper care of their body it could lead to complications that may turn life threatening.
The importance of proper skin care among diabetics needs to be stressed. People with diabetes are more likely to develop skin conditions. According to the American Diabetes Association, as many as one third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by the condition at some time in their lives. Skin problems can be the first indication that someone is afflicted with the disorder. Adversely, since reduced nerve sensitivity and circulation to the extremities are symptomatic of diabetes, skin problems are hard to identify for some.
How Diabetes Affects Skin
When blood glucose is high, the body loses fluid. As a result, skin on the legs, feet, elbows, and other areas on the body become dry and often itchy. Dry skin cracks, allowing germs into the body which can cause infections. If blood glucose is high, it feeds germs and makes infections worse. Moisture can also be lost through frequent urination, a common side effect of diabetes.
Another way diabetes can hurt skin is nerve damage that decreases the amount of sweat a person produces. As sweating helps keep skin soft and moist, decreased sweating in feet and legs can cause dry skin.
A major issue amongst diabetics is reduced or delayed healing. As patients more prone to infection, their bodies are slow to heal due to reduced blood circulation, higher glucose levels, slower metabolism and thicker skin. Furthermore, thickening of the skin increases susceptibility to infection.
To keep diabetes well managed, here are several tips for skin care:
- When bathing, use a mild and/or moisturizing soap then rinse well. Avoid hot baths and showers. Try to bathe less during cold, winter months.
- Dry off skin well and use a standard lotion or cream. Ask a doctor or dermatologist for suggestions.
- Drink lots of fluids, such as water to keep skin moist.
- Wear all-cotton underwear to allow air to move around the body.
- Do not scratch dry, itchy skin as it can open up allowing infections to set in.
- During cold, dry months use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
To best address the skin needs for those afflicted with diabetes, routine visits with a dermatologist is recommended. Not only will they assess the skin’s condition, but provide patients with advice for proper skin care. The licensed dermatologists of Knoxville Dermatology Group understand how daunting living with diabetes can seem. However, their knowledge and attention to patient needs is conducive to proper management.
Schedule an appointment today with one of our board certified physicians to gain more knowledge about your skin so it can reach its fullest, healthiest potential!