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If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you know that skincare can get complicated. You’re more prone to dry skin and infection and more likely to develop certain skin conditions. Poor circulation can also slow healing, as vital nutrients take longer to reach any scrapes or cuts. On top of it all, nerve damage from diabetes can sometimes make it difficult for you to know if your skin needs care at all, leaving you vulnerable to infection.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, or you’d just like some tips, stay tuned: we’d like to help you get the healthiest skin possible.
This may be a no-brainer but getting control of your blood sugar can help keep your skin healthy and control any problems you may already have. Maintaining a healthy weight, managing your blood pressure, and getting regular exercise can contribute to this. If you need support, reach out to your primary care doctor or endocrinologist to build a strategy together.
Diabetic skin is more prone to dryness, leaving you vulnerable to infection. Your first line of defense is going to be a good moisturizer used consistently, ideally twice a day or at least right after a shower. After a warm shower (not too hot), your pores are wider, leaving your skin more receptive to moisturizer or lotion. Showers that are too frequent or too long can also dry out your skin.
You don’t need any diabetic-specific products, but products with tons of chemicals in them can irritate the skin, so opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free moisturizers. Keep a humidifier running in your home during the winter and keep a lip balm on hand for chapped lips.
Annual full-body examinations by your dermatologist are essential since many studies show a correlation between diabetes and skin cancers. Other risk factors include fair skin, blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, a history or family history of skin cancers, or a history of prolonged sun exposure, or numerous sunburns. The key is catching skin cancer in its early stage since this is when it is the most treatable.
While you’re cultivating your moisturizing habit, pay special attention to your nails. Both cuticles and snagged nails are vulnerable to infection and fungus, so keep your fingernails short and straight, and rub moisturizer into your cuticles, being sure never to cut them.
If you have a pedicure habit, you may want to revisit it, especially if you already have signs of neuropathy. The danger of infections means that you only trust your feet to your podiatrist.
Speaking of your feet – since they’re one of the first places neuropathy can manifest, be sure to check them regularly for cracked skin and cuts.
While generally, the rule of diabetes skincare is moisturizing, there are a few spots you’ll want to keep dry, the chief of which is the skin between your toes. As soon as you get out of the shower, make sure these areas are thoroughly dry, using hypoallergenic baby powder or cornstarch to make sure they’re dry.
The reason for this kind of caution is that the spaces between your toes are a double risk. Any place on your body where the skin rubs together can grow moist and promote bacterial and fungal growth. Still, your feet are more prone to developing neuropathy, so they deserve extra attention.
If you’re struggling with diabetic skincare, reach out to your dermatologist. They know your skin best and can help you decide your next steps and keep you healthy for years to come. If you don’t have a dermatologist and aren’t sure where to start, reach out to Advanced Dermatology – we would love to be your dermatology home!