If you have diabetes, your skin care routine should extend from your head to your toes. Following a few simple steps can help minimize the effects of diabetes on your skin.
First, always make sure that your skin is clean and dry, especially in the areas where skin touches skin, such as your groin or between the toes. You can use a little bit of fragrance-free powder in these areas to help keep fungus from growing [source: American Diabetes Association]. You want your skin to be dry to the touch, but you still want it moisturized so that it doesn't crack and invite infections. Take short baths or showers, and use warm instead of hot water -- too much water can take away necessary, protective oils from your skin. Also, try using a humidifier during dry months.
If you do find yourself with dry skin, you can often avoid open sores if you resist the urge to scratch. If you have cuts or other open wounds, treat them right away with soap and water. Don't use an antiseptic, alcohol or iodine on your cuts, because they're too harsh for your skin [source: American Diabetes Association]. As always, see a doctor if any of your skin conditions get serious, and work to keep your diabetes itself under control.
Diabetes can be problematic for the skin on your feet, especially because you may not notice an infection there. To prevent serious problems, make sure you check your feet every day for sores, cuts or blisters, and monitor any issues if you do find them. Wash your feet daily and dry them well. You can use lotion on your feet, but don't put it between your toes, as it could allow fungus to grow. If you have corns or calluses, file them down gently after making sure they're not infected.
Having a whole skin care routine to worry about might seem overwhelming when you're already dealing with a disease such as diabetes, but taking good care of your skin will pay off in the long run. For more information about skin conditions associated with diabetes and how to treat them, follow the links below.
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- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Diabetes: Foot Care." June 2009. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/living/352.html
- American Diabetes Association. "Skin Care." (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://www.diabetes.org/type-2-diabetes/skin-care.jsp
- American Diabetes Association. "Skin Complications." (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://www.diabetes.org/type-1-diabetes/skin-complications.jsp
- CDC's Diabetes Program. "National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2007." July 23, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/estimates07.htm
- Cleveland Clinic. "Foot and Skin Related Complications of Diabetes." Oct. 24, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/diabetes_mellitus/hic_foot_and_skin_related_complications_of_diabetes.aspx
- Drugge, Rhett and Art Huntley. "Diabetes in Skin Disease." The Electronic Textbook of Dermatology. (Sept. 18, 2009)http://telemedicine.org/dm/dmupdate.htm
- Mayo Clinic. "Diabetes." June 13, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/DS01121
- Medline Plus. "Muycormycosis." Dec. 3, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000649.htm
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. "Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes." May 2008. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/pubs/neuropathies/
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. "Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your feet and skin healthy." February 2009. (Accessed Sept. 19, 2009)http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/pubs/complications_feet/
- WebMD. "Skin Problems in Diabetes." March 8, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 18, 2009)http://diabetes.webmd.com/guide/skin-problems