Diabetes can hurt the skin in two ways. If blood glucose is high, the body loses fluid. With less fluid in the body, skin can get dry. Dry skin can be itchy, causing a diabetic to scratch and make it sore. Also, dry skin can crack. Cracks allow germs to enter and cause infection. If blood glucose is high, it feeds germs and makes infections worse. Skin can get dry on the legs, feet and elbows.

Nerve damage can decrease the amount a person sweats. Sweating helps keep the skin soft and moist. Decreased sweating in the feet and legs can cause dry skin.

Skin Care Tips for Diabetics

After you wash with a mild soap, make sure you rinse and dry yourself well. Check places where water can hide, such as under the arms, under the breasts, between the legs, and between the toes.

  • Keep your skin moist by using a lotion or cream after you wash. Ask your doctor to suggest one.
  • Drink lots of fluids, such as water, to keep your skin moist and healthy.
  • Wear all-cotton underwear. Cotton allows air to move around your body better.
  • Check your skin after you wash. Make sure you have no dry, red, or sore spots that might lead to an infection.
  • Tell your doctor about any skin problems.

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is an information dissemination service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NDIC was established in 1978 to increase knowledge and understanding about diabetes among patients, health care professionals, and the general public.

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