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Care of Your Skin When You Have Diabetes

Care of Your Skin When You Have Diabetes

If high blood sugar levels have damaged nerves that go to your skin, you may sweat less, and your skin may become dry and cracked. Damaged skin becomes infected more easily when you have diabetes .

To prevent skin problems and allow for early treatment of any problems that develop, each day:

  • Inspect your skin, especially on your feet, between your toes, and around your fingernails and toenails. Watch for redness, cuts, scrapes, calluses, or blisters.
  • Keep your skin folds—such as in your groin or under your breasts—dry. Moist areas increase the risk of infection.
  • Dry the area between your toes well after bathing.
  • Use a bath soap that has a moisturizer added. Use soap only as needed (on your feet, underarms, and groin). Avoid using deodorant soaps and antibacterial soaps, which may dry your skin.
  • If your skin is dry, do not use bubble baths. Use a bath oil instead.

To prevent dryness and injury:

  • Use a home humidifier during cold weather and in dry climates.
  • Use a moisturizer after you bathe, but avoid skin folds and in between your toes.
  • Wear gloves when you garden, do yard work, use household chemicals, or do dishes.
  • Always test the temperature of the water before you take a bath or shower, especially if you have peripheral neuropathy . Use your elbow or upper arm to check the temperature, or have a family member do it.
  • Avoid hot water, which can dry out skin. Warm water is better.

To prevent problems from the sun:

  • Cover any ulcers or wounds with a bandage, not sunscreen.
  • Treat peeling sunburns with lotion to help prevent skin from cracking open and getting infected.
  • Be more careful about the time in the sun when you take medicines that can increase your sun sensitivity, such as some sulfonylureas, heart medicines, and antibiotics.

See your doctor or a dermatologist if you have a skin problem that does not go away.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised July 16, 2013
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