Diabetes can affect every part of the body, including the skin. As a dermatologist, one of the most frequent skin issues I see associated with diabetes is very dry skin, particularly on the lower legs and feet. If the skin is so dry it becomes cracked, bacteria can enter and may cause infection, which can lead to more serious health concerns for some. Luckily, dry skin can be managed by establishing a good skin care routine.
Top Diabetic Skin-Care Tips
1. Keep your diabetes well controlled. People with consistently high glucose levels tend to have dry skin and a reduced ability to fend off harmful bacteria. If left untreated, skin may become cracked, increasing the risk of skin infection.
2. Keep skin clean and dry. It is best to use gentle, non-fragranced, soap-free cleansers to gently wash the skin without stripping it of the natural oils.
3. Avoid very hot baths and showers. If your skin is dry, don’t take bubble baths.
4. Immediately after a bath or shower, it’s important to lock in skin hydration with a good moisturizer for both the body and feet to maintain the skin’s protective barrier. The barrier of the skin is a waxy coating that helps to keep irritants out and maintain healthy levels of skin hydration.
5. Prevent dry skin to avoid cracking and risk of infection. Look for products that contain something to exfoliate the skin and to intensively moisturize to help prevent cracks. A product with alpha-hydroxy helps exfoliate to remove dead skin, and reveal softer, smoother skin.
6. Treat scrapes and cuts immediately. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Do not use alcohol or iodine to clean skin because they are too drying. It is best to cover with a skin healing ointment and bandage. See your dermatologist for any skin rash or wound that is not healing quickly.
Dry skin is very common in people with diabetes, and demands special attention. However, by treating it gently and moisturizing regularly using good skin-care products that are formulated with those needs in mind, it is possible to keep the skin hydrated, soft and healthy-looking.