Diabetes can hurt the skin in two ways. If blood glucose levels are 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 create skin sores. 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 and socks. Cotton allows air to circulate better to avoid fungal infections such as yeast and athletes foot.
- Wear non binding socks and properly fitting shoes to avoid blisters.
- 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 open wounds or skin problems.
- Foot care is an important part of a diabetic's hygiene routine. Nerve damage and poor blood flow work together to create potential foot problems. Speak to your doctor about a regular foot care schedule.
Source: The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC)