Diabetes' Effects on Skin
Since diabetes is a disease that has to do with the level of glucose in your blood, you might be wondering how that can affect your skin. Your skin's health is actually related in two ways to the amount of glucose you have in your blood.
First, when you have high levels of blood sugar -- or too much glucose in your bloodstream -- your body tries to remove the excess by excreting it in your urine. It takes water to make urine, which leads to a loss of moisture in your body. With this loss of fluid comes a loss of moisture in your skin, leaving it dry and easily prone to cracking. Cracks in your skin invite infection because they make it easier for germs to get in.
This is where the second effect of having high blood sugar comes in. Glucose in your bloodstream provides an environment for bacteria to multiply [source: Cleveland Clinic]. An increased number of pathogens can cause infections, or worsen them if they already exist. This can be especially problematic for areas of your skin that don't always have exposure to air, such as your feet.
In addition to water loss, high blood sugar also causes a reduced blood supply to the skin, which can result in a number of different disorders. For example, diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, is a common condition associated with diabetes, and it can contribute to skin problems by making it difficult to feel pain and notice infections, especially in places such as your feet [source: Cleveland Clinic]. Nerve damage can also cause you to sweat less, meaning more dry skin.
However, if you have diabetes, dryness may be the least of your skin care worries. Continue to the next page to find out about some of the other skin conditions that go along with diabetes.