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Good Skin Care and Diabetes

People with diabetes are prone to dry skin, particularly when blood glucose levels run high. This causes the body to lose fluids and skin to become dry.  Dry skin can crack and itch, which can lead to infections.  You may also get dry skin with diabetes if you have neuropathy. The nerves in the legs and feet may not get the message to sweat, which is necessary to keep skin soft and moist.  Keeping your skin moisturized when you have diabetes is one of the easiest ways to prevent skin problems.

Here are some other ways you can prevent skin problems with diabetes:

  • After you wash with a mild soap, rinse and dry thoroughly in every nook and cranny of your body. Use a moisturizer, but not between your toes.
  • Avoid very hot baths and showers, which can dry your skin. “Avoid soaking your feet too,” says Andrea Penney, RN, CDE, at Joslin Diabetes Center.  “Extended exposure to water softens the feet and makes your skin more prone to being pierced.”
  • Inspect your body for red spots, blisters and sores that could lead to infection.
  • Look for any bumps or changes in appearance on your feet and have your doctor look at your feet at least twice a year during your physical.
  • Treat cuts right away.  Wash minor cuts with soap and water.
  • Keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol by taking prescribed medications, which will improve circulation and keep your skin healthy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, like water and caffeine-free, sugar-free drinks, to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which nourish the skin. This includes fish like salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and mackerel, as well as tofu and other forms of soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed and their oils.

If you notice any skin problems, let your health care provider know right away.

Page last updated: October 24, 2014