Having diabetes sucks. Not only does your pancreas not work, but it also causes the rest of your body to have problems. One of these problems is skin issues. Because your body has high levels of sugar, your blood acts as a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. It can reduce the body’s ability to heal itself, meaning that a simple cut or bruise takes forever to go away.
Therefore, it is important to take excellent care of your skin. Diabetics typically have dry skin, which means you need to take steps to keep yourself moisturized without opening up your body to infection. It’s hard to manage a diabetic skin care routine, so here are our best tips!
1. Use Talcum Powder
Using talcum powder may creep you out, but it’s actually pretty important to keeping a diabetic’s skin healthy. It is vitally important to keep skin clean and dry, as any dirt or moistness can give harmful bacteria the chance to take over. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and cuts down on friction, which helps to prevent rashes and makes you more comfortable.
2. Avoid Very Hot Baths and Showers
Sorry, this one has us bummed out for you. There’s nothing much better than a steaming hot shower on a chill winter day. Unfortunately, though, one of the side effects of diabetes is neuropathy. Neuropathy is a nerve disease which causes numbness in the extremities, meaning you might not be able to tell when the water is getting too hot and you are burning yourself. Additionally, spending an extended time in the water can wash away protective oils from your skin, leaving you vulnerable to even more dryness and flakiness.
3. Use a Skin Lotion to Moisturize
It’s essential to keep your skin moisturized and healthy, especially when you are done bathing. Preventing dry skin is essential, as dry or itchy skin can easily lead to an open sore or rash that becomes infected. It might help to buy a special diabetic skin lotion, but really any moisturizer will suffice. Never put lotion between your toes! This is a problem area for all diabetics, as the extremities are very susceptible to issues. Extra moisture in this area can encourage fungus to grow, which is both gross, smelly, and a threat to your foot health.
4. Use Sunscreen
Obviously you know that sunscreen staves off skin cancer, you might not realize how important it is for preventing symptoms of diabetes. Sun has been shown to do weird things to your blood sugar levels, which is super annoying to deal with when you’re trying to live a normal life. This is because the skin gets injured from the sun, and needs to have time and energy to repair itself. Your body has to adjust, and sometimes sugars are thrown out of whack. Plus, don’t forget that whole thing about keeping your skin moisturized – letting it get sizzled and dried out in the sun is not really the best way to do that. Doctors recommend using at least SPF 15. If you are sensitive to certain ingredients, try buying a sunscreen free of extra additives.
5. Treat Cuts and Scrapes Immediately
No, it’s not. Cuts and scrapes are actually very dangerous for diabetics, as bacteria can easily get into the wound and start causing trouble. Immediately wash the wound with soap and water to cleanse it. Avoid using products that have Mercurochrome antiseptic, alcohol, or iodine in them as they are too harsh for your sensitive skin. Follow up with an antibiotic cream or ointment to help prevent infection, then seal the cut with a bandage or some sterile gauze.
6. Pat Skin Dry
It is pretty instinctual to rub the water off of your face and body with a towel when you get wet. However, this is actually not good for your skin. Whenever you use a towel to rub your skin, it creates rough chafing which irritates your skin. Also, removing the water so quickly from your skin can actually help to dry it out and exacerbate dry skin issues. Yikes. Patting your skin, on the other hand, leaves some of the moisture behind so that your body can absorb it.
7. Protect Yourself From Cold
Alright, you should know by now that cold, windy weather causes dry skin. Prevent yourself from becoming an alligator by staying bundled up under a hat, boots, and gloves. And don’t forget about your lips! It is too easy for them to get dry, cracked, and chapped. Be sure to always have a soothing lip balm on hand that you can apply when you start to feel dry.
Managing your diabetic skin care routine is doable, but you just have to stay on top of it. Forgetting to moisturize one day could mean your skin becomes dry and cracked the next. If you ever have any skin dryness or issues that you can’t control by using a simple routine, then do not hesitate to visit your dermatologist. He or she might have some added tips and can help by prescribing you medicated moisturizers if necessary.
In the end, you should really try and limit the products you use on your skin to decrease your chances of having an adverse reaction to one of them. Find products your skin can tolerate and stick with them as long as they are doing the job well.
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