While many diabetics expect the dietary changes that diabetes leads to, what many diabetics don’t expect is how diabetes can affect skin. As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some point in their lives; luckily, many of these skin issues can be prevented with basic skincare techniques.
Diabetics tend to develop skin conditions as a result of high glucose levels, weakened immune systems, weakened blood flow, and occasionally, insulin usage. For example, high glucose levels can lead to dry skin, which can then lead to itching, cracking, and rashes. A weakened immune system can cause bacterial or fungal infections, and weakened blood flow can make it difficult to heal from wounds. Insulin usage can lead to rosacea, or, in rare occasions, yellow skin.
To avoid these potential skin disorders, diabetics can employ proper skincare as a preventative measure. Diabetics should bathe with mild soap and warm water daily, moisturizing afterwards to avoid excess dryness and avoiding long, hot showers, which can also lead to dryness. Keep your home more humid during winter, when the air is drier, and moisturize regularly during cold, windy winter weather and after washing hands. Keep your blood pressure and glucose levels controlled, and include foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon) in your diet to nourish and strengthen your skin.
Diabetics may want to create a first aid kit for skin to keep on hand in their homes. This kit can include antibacterial ointment, clean petroleum jelly, gauze pads, hypoallergenic tape, cleansing towelettes, and Coban self-adherent elastic wrap.
Diabetics should also be wary of potential foot problems, such as blisters, cracked feet, infections, and skin conditions caused by a lack of circulation or diabetic nerve damage. Diabetics can prevent foot problems by wearing shoe inserts to maintain their foot shape, as well as examining their feet daily to prevent any damage. Finally, diabetics should see their doctor at least once a year for a foot examination that focuses on circulation and sensation.