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Caring for Your Skin When You Have Diabetes

Caring for Your Skin When You Have Diabetes

Getting Started

If high blood sugar levels have damaged nerves that go to your skin, you may sweat less, and your skin may become dry and cracked. Damaged skin gets infected more easily when you have diabetes. Try these tips to help prevent dryness, injury, and other skin problems.

See your doctor or a dermatologist if you have a skin problem that doesn't go away.

  • Inspect your skin every day.

    Pay special attention to the skin on your feet, between your toes, and around your fingernails and toenails. Watch for redness, cuts, scrapes, calluses, and blisters.

  • Keep your skin folds dry.

    This includes the skin in your groin or under your breasts. Moist areas increase the risk of infection.

  • Take care when you bathe.
    • Use warm water. Avoid hot water, which can dry out skin.
    • Always test the temperature of the water before you take a bath or shower. Use your elbow or upper arm to check the temperature. Or have a family member do it.
    • Use a bath soap that has a moisturizer added. Use soap only as needed (on your feet, underarms, and groin). Avoid deodorant soaps and antibacterial soaps. They may dry your skin.
    • If your skin is dry, don't use bubble baths. Use a bath oil instead.
    • Use a moisturizer after you bathe. But don't put it on skin folds and between your toes.
  • Wear gloves when you do chores.

    Use gloves when you garden, do yard work, use household chemicals, or do dishes.

  • Take steps to prevent problems from the sun.
    • Cover any ulcers or wounds with a bandage, not sunscreen.
    • Treat peeling sunburns with lotion. It can help prevent skin from cracking open and getting infected.
    • Be more careful about time in the sun when you take medicines that can increase your sun sensitivity. This includes some diabetes medicines, heart medicines, and antibiotics.
  • Use a home humidifier during cold weather and in dry climates.

Credits

Current as of: July 28, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

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