Diabetes Dry Skin – Best Remedies

diabetes skin care

Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can be associated with skin problems, including dry skin.  No one knows exactly why dry skin is associated with diabetes but most diabetic experts agree that things like diabetic dry skin conditions can be easily managed with simple tips, including the following:
diabetes dry skin and skin care

Control the blood sugar numbers.

If your blood sugar is out of control, you will have a greater likelihood of suffering from dry skin.  In order to get your diabetes under control, you’ll need to watch what you eat, try and achieve a healthy weight, decrease salt intake, maintain a normal blood pressure, and exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

Talk to your doctor.

Your doctor may be able to help you identify some of the skin conditions you are experiencing as a result of having diabetes.  The doctor will be able to evaluate your dry skin and will be able to make recommendations about which treatments you can do that will correct the dry skin and other skin conditions associated with having diabetes mellitus.

Recognize diabetic nerve damage.

If you are suffering from diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage from elevated blood sugar levels), you will need to take special care to manage your dry skin.  With diabetic nerve damage, you may not be aware of dry skin conditions and you have an increased likelihood of having cracks in the skin that can get infected.  If you have dry skin and diabetic nerve damage, you’ll need to check the skin of your lower extremities every day to make sure that you haven’t developed any type of crack or tear in the skin that you didn’t notice because of numbness secondary to neuropathy.

Get treatment for any wounds you may have.

If you find that you have a tear or cut from dry skin, be aware that the likelihood of developing an infection is higher than normal because diabetes negatively affects your ability to heal these types of skin problems.  If you have dry skin and this has resulted in getting a tear or cut in your skin, you need to see your doctor about getting on some type of medication (such as an antibiotic) so that the tear doesn’t develop an infection.

Cover your skin.

If you are a diabetic with dry skin, you need to try and cover those areas of the body that are dry in order to prevent tearing of the skin that might become infected.  This means wearing long pants, socks, and well-fitting shoes that will prevent injuries to your skin whenever you are outside or in a situation where a cut or tear is likely to happen.

Prevent dry skin

Prevent dry skin from occurring in the first place

Because dry skin is likely to become cracked and infected, you need to do what you can to prevent dry skin from occurring. This means keeping your skin dry as much as possible (use talcum powder on areas that can be moist), taking short baths or showers in lukewarm water, and using the mildest soaps you can find.  Avoid deodorant or cleansers that are scented, as these can be damaging to the sensitive skin seen in diabetics.  It also means using a good moisturizer after showering or bathing, as this is when the skin will retain the moisture you get from bathing.  Make sure that you dry the skin well by patting the skin with a soft towel.  Never rub the skin when drying off.  You need to pay special attention to drying the underarm area, the skin beneath the breasts, the legs, and the skin between the toes.

Keep the skin clean at all times.

Because you are at a higher risk of developing cuts or tears from dry skin, you need to keep the skin clean at all times. This means having regular baths or showers using mild soaps to keep the skin clean and drying off the skin with a clean towel that won’t irritate the skin.

Avoid baths or showers that are extremely hot.

If you have dry skin from diabetes, you’ll want to avoid extremely hot showers or baths.  Take lukewarm baths and avoid using bubble baths that can dry out the skin even more.  Instead of using a bubble bath, use a plain lukewarm bath that will cleanse the skin without damaging it.

Don’t scratch your dry skin.

Any time you scratch dry skin, you can open up the skin, allowing for infection to develop in the tissues beneath the skin.   Instead of scratching the skin, put on a moisturizer that can keep the skin from becoming too dry and focus on the driest parts of the skin, such as the legs, arms, feet, and hands.

Use a humidifier

Dry skin tends to be worse during the winter months.  It is during this time when your skin will be at its driest.  By using a humidifier, you will keep the dry air from drying out the skin and will have less itching and a decreased chance of having scratching leading to cuts or tears in the skin.

Use topical antibiotics liberally.

Have a topical antibiotic cream available at all times and use it whenever you have a cut or tear in the skin.  Whenever a cut or tear occurs, wash the skin carefully and apply topical antibiotic creams to prevent infection from occurring.  If this doesn’t work to treat an infection of the skin, see your doctor about using an oral antibiotic to treat the infection.

Make use of milder shampoos.

The skin of the scalp is likely to be dry if you have untreated diabetes mellitus.  In order to avoid having an itchy dry scalp, you might want to choose a mild soap to cleanse your hair so that you don’t develop an itchy scalp that could open up and become infected.

Avoid feminine hygiene sprays

These can be irritating to the skin, especially if they contain fragrances.  Rather than using feminine hygiene sprays, simply wash the affected area with lukewarm water and mild soap so that you can keep the skin fresh without having to use a hygiene spray.

See a skin doctor

see a doctor
Having a dermatologist and seeing them regularly about your dry skin can go a long way toward avoiding the complications of dry skin.  Your dermatologist can evaluate your skin and can make recommendations about what you can do in order to avoid dry skin and the complications that come out of having dry skin.

Take good care of your lower extremities

This means checking your feet every day for cuts and sores that occur because of dry skin.  Because diabetics often have neuropathy that keeps them from feeling the feet, it is important to inspect the feet daily, wear white cotton socks to wick away moisture, and check the shoes every day for the presence of any foreign items that may have accidentally slipped into the shoes before putting them on.

Simple skin care can do a lot to prevent skin problems in diabetes.  If you have dry skin from diabetes, see your doctor if you develop any type of cut, tear, or scrape as a result of your dry skin condition.

Complications of Dry Skin and other Diabetic Skin Conditions

Diabetics at risk for dry skin face complications if the skin is not taken care of properly.  Besides dry skin, diabetics are more prone to getting fungal infections, itchy skin, and bacterial infections.  Other skin conditions that are common among diabetics include diabetic blisters, diabetic dermopathy, eruptive xanthomatosis, and lipoidica diabeticorum.

Because these types of skin conditions can come out of having uncontrolled diabetes and dry skin, it is doubly more important to take care of your dry skin as much as possible and to have a dermatologist as part of your healthcare team who can help you manage your dry skin conditions and other diabetic skin complications.
diabetes and dry skin

References:

  1. 6 Diabetes Skin Care Tips. http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/diabetes-skin-care
  2. Diabetic Skin care. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/skin-complications.html
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