Diabetics expect to have to learn how to check their blood sugar and to change their diets upon diagnosis. But what diabetics are often surprised by is the correlation between diabetes and skin disorders. In fact, as many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some point in their lives.
The skin disorders often come from common symptoms of diabetes, such as high glucose levels, weakened immune systems, weakened blood flow, and difficulty healing from wounds. High glucose levels can lead to dry skin, which often leads to other skin disorders such as itching, cracking, complication healing from open wounds, and infection. Similarly, diabetes are prone to bacterial infections thanks to the combination of reduced blood flow to some areas of the body and weakened immune systems. In rare instances, insulin use can lead to yellow skin since it works in a similar fashion to a growth hormone.
Luckily, most of the skin conditions related to diabetics can be prevented before they occur with some basic skincare techniques. Diabetics should bathe daily with mild soap and warm water, avoiding very hot showers and baths that can dry out skin. Moisturize after bathing and in cold or windy weather to keep skin healthy, and keep blood pressure and blood glucose levels under control. Fill your diet with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon that will nourish and strengthen skin, and drink plenty of fluids to keep the skin hydrated. Consider keeping a first aid kit for skin on hand, with items such as antibacterial ointment, clean petroleum jelly, gauze pads, hypoallergenic tape, and more.
Finally, diabetics also commonly face foot problems like blisters, cracked feet, infections, and other skin conditions caused by a lack of circulation or diabetic nerve damage. To prevent these problems, wear shoe inserts to help prevent changes from the shape of the foot, and examine your feet daily to help prevent any damage or conditions. See your doctor for a foot examination annually and have him or her focus on circulation and sensation.