Skin Care Guidelines For Diabetics

Gunjan Lal
April 24, 2017
Views : 2051
Skin Care Guidelines For Diabetics

Diabetes happens when your pancreas releases very little or no insulin, or when your body does not respond properly to insulin. It has no proper cure and is a chronic medical condition, which means that although it can be kept in check and controlled but it lasts a lifetime.

A person who suffers with diabetes also suffers several consequences which accompany this disease. For example, if you're a person with a sweet tooth then you can't have your favourite foods, you pee more often, feel more thirsty, if you get cut or injured it takes a longer time for you to heal. Similarly, with this health condition, your skin can dry out due to lack of proper hydration. Water (or fluids) essentially provide your body with moisture. Now, if you're diabetic your body would be using fluids to generate pee and therefore there'd be less moisture for other things. You can get dehydrated, and your skin may feel dry and itchy because of this reason. This also means that you could get injured more easily or be more likely to catch an infection, and what goes without saying is that it'll all take longer to heal. So, follow are a few tips to care for your skin all while dealing with diabetes.

Skin that's too dry can itch, crack, and get infected. Here are some ways hoe you can prevent dry skin.

  • Make sure that you keep your skin - especially the armpits, toes, and groin - clean and dry, but not too dry. Talcum powder can help.
  • Keep in mind to take short showers or baths with lukewarm water (hot water is not recommended) and use mild soaps and shampoos. Try to skip using deodorant filled or scented cleansers, which can be harsh on sensitive skin.
  • Moisturize regularly if your skin is dry. The best time to moisturize is right after you shower or take a bath, when your skin is still moist. If your skin is extremely dry then keep a mild lotion handy.
  • Dry your skin well by patting gently. Hastily rubbing sensitive skin is not wise. Pay attention on underarms, under breasts, between legs, and between the toes.
  • Basic skin care can go far toward helping you prevent problems that might develop later on if you're diabetic. If a cut, rash, or bruise worries you, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or dermatologist right away.
  • Drink plenty of water, fluids keep your skin hydrated which is extremely important, so make sure to drink water, or sugar free drinks to avoid dehydration.
  • Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, because they are helpful in nourishing your skin. Omega- 3 rich foods include fish such as salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and mackerel, as well as forms of soybeans, flaxseed, walnuts, and their oils.
  • One simple and clever key to preventing problems is to get educated, that is to understand what causes them. Sit and talk with your doctor, learn about the difficulties, what your particular risks could be, and how you can prevent or lower them.

How can you control your diabetes

Like I've mentioned above, diabetes is a lifelong disease which has no cure, but you can definitely control it and keep yourself healthy with a few lifestyle and habit changes. You can get (and keep) your blood sugar level within a normal range (which you can discuss with your doctor). If you already have skin problems, you can prevent them from getting worse. You can strive for a healthy weight, cut back on salt, eat right, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and of course do some exercise daily. You don't have to figure all out at once, take your time and talk to your doctor, there are various other medical experts who can help you in dealing and living with this disease.

Take special care if you have diabetic nerve damage (which is known as neuropathy). You could have an infected scratch, cut, or skin puncture and may not know it. Don't let a little problem turn into a huge one. Try and be aware of your body. Keep proper check of your ankles, legs, feet, and in between your toes every day for any wounds or if you have old wounds that never seem to heal or are healing slowly.

Know how to treat minor wounds and sores. Not paying heed to a cut or a bruise is not a good idea if you're diabetic. If you think a nick, a small cut, a scratch, or anything has been the same since a couple of days and isn't healing or that worries you, speak to your doctor right away.

A simple first line of defense that can help you avoid the unwanted cuts and scratches is to cover up properly. These minor injuries can lead to infection. Whether you are gardening or walking your dog - keep your legs covered with long pants and your feet with flat, well-fitting shoes.

Make a First-Aid Kit for Your Skin

Keep a first-aid kit handy to take care of your hands and feet. It should contain the following elements - antibacterial ointment, gauze pads, hypoallergenic or paper tape or doctor tape, prepackaged cleansing wipes (for cases where soap and water are not available)

What to do when you get blisters

First of all, never try to break or pop the blister - the skin that covers the blister protects it from infection, so popping it would only make your trouble worse.

You should gently wash the area with a mild soap and warm water and apply antibacterial ointment to the blister. Then cover it with a gauze pad or cloth bandage (make sure it's absolutely clean). Secure that with doctor tape or paper tape.

You should try to change the bandage at least once a day. If the blister is on your foot and is caused from your shoes, wear a different pair till the time it heals.

How to Care for Small Cuts

Gently and carefully wash the area with mild soap and warm water. Apply an antibacterial ointment from your first aid kit and cover the cut with a gauze pad or a clean cloth bandage. Now cover it with some paper or doctor tape to secure the cut from further infection. Don't forget to change the bandage everyday till your cut heals.

How to Tackle Minor Skin Problems Like Rashes

If you develop a skin rash then don't worry, gently wash the area where your rash is with a mild soap and warm water and pat (don't rub) it dry. Cover the irritated skin using a gauze pad ot a cloth bandage if you fell it can get infected if left open, and tape it up.

If you cover the affected area, then keep a check on it to make sure that it doesn't get worse or doesn't expand. Also, try to change the gauze every day in order to keep the area clean and avoid further damage due to dirty gauze.

How to care for Minor Burns

If you burn yourself by touching a hot pan or a splash of hot oil then don't panic. Pacify the burnt area with cool and clean running water. If you develop any blisters on the surface then do not try to pop or break it, let the water run over it too.

Gently pat dry the burnt skin and apply a burn ointment on it. Lightly cover it with a gauze pad, make sure that you don't put extra pressure while covering with the gauze, then secure the wound with a doctor or paper tape. Don't forget to change and reapply the ointment everyday till your wound starts healing.

If the burn intensity is too much then stop surfing the internet and run to a medical expert.

What to do in cases of Frostbite

Frostbites are serious issues so call for medical help immediately. While waiting for medical help, use warm (warm, not hot) water to warm your skin (98-104 F). Do not rub the frostbitten area or apply any creams. Do not apply pressure on the frostbitten part of your body, i.e do not try to walk on the affected foot or use the affected hand.

If you notice any of the warning signs mentioned below on your skin, it might be time to talk with your doctor.

Skin Infections

We've already established that people who have diabetes are prone to skin infections. If you have a skin infection, you would notice one or more of these - that your skin is painful, hot and swollen; an itchy rash may develop; blisters; dry scaly skin; a white discharge that would look like cottage cheese.

A skin infection can occur on any random area of your body - including the areas around one or more of your nails, between your toes, and even on your scalp.

Reddish, Yellow, or Brown Patches On Your Skin

This particular kind of skin condition often starts off as small raised solid bumps on the skin that look like pimples. As it develops, these bumps take the shape of patches of hard and swollen skin. The patches can look like reddish, yellow, or brown in colour. You could further notice some symptoms such as the skin surrounding the bumps may have a shiny porcelain-like appearance; you may also see blood vessels; the skin might be itchy and painful. The skin disease undergoes cycles where it is active, inactive, and then active again, the medical name of this condition is necrobiosis lipodica.

Darker Area of Skin that Feels like Velvet

If you see a dark patch (or band) of velvety skin on your armpit, groin, or on the back of your neck, or anywhere else could mean that you have an excess of insulin in your blood. It is often a sign of pre-diabetes so make sure that you go and get yourself checked by a professional. The medical name for this skin condition is acanthosis nigricans.

Hard or Thickening Skin

If you notice weird thick or hard skin developing on your fingers, toes (or both), get yourself checked it may be a symptom/ consequence of diabetes. The medical name for this condition is known as digital sclerosis.

If it happens on the hands, you may notice tight and waxy skin on the back of your hands. Your fingers could become stiff and it may get difficult to move them. If diabetes has been badly controlled over a long period of time, it can feel like you have pebbles in your fingertips.

Thick, hard and swollen- looking skin can extend, appearing on your forearms and upper arms as well. It can also develop on your upper back, neck and shoulders. At times, the thickening skin spreads to the shoulders, face and chest.

This skin condition usually develops in people who suffer complications due to diabetes or have diabetes that is difficult to treat.


Blisters are rare, but people with diabetes can notice blisters appearing out of the blue on their skin. They may see a large blister, or a group of blisters, or both. Blisters due to diabetes tend to form on the feet, hands, legs, or forearms - they appear like the blisters that form after a serious burn.

Unlike the blisters that are caused due to a burn, blisters due to diabetes are not painful. Medically this condition is known as bullosis diabetricorum. Sometimes, also called as diabetic bullae.

Yellowish Scaly Patches on and Around Your Eyelids

Scaly patches that look yellowish in colour develop on and around your eyelids when you have high levels of fat in your blood. Alternatively, it can also be a sign that your diabetes is badly controlled. The medical name for this condition is xanthelasma. If you see such a sign then visit your doctor, if it's a symptom of diabetes then your doctor will suggest you some steps to control it, by taking better care of diabetes the scaly patches will clear up.

Gunjan Lal

Gunjan Lal

Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.

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