Diabetic Skin Troubles
We often take our skin for granted, but if you’ve ever had an itchy rash or a boil,
you know how painful even a small skin problem can be. About one-third of people with
diabetes develop a skin problem sooner or later. Fortunately, most problems can be
prevented or easily treated. Here are 3 common problems and how to prevent them.
Dry, itchy skin
When blood glucose is high, your body loses fluid. Diabetic nerve damage can also
decrease sweating. Both can lead to dry skin.
To prevent dry skin, manage your blood sugar and drink plenty of fluids. When bathing,
avoid very hot water and use mild soap. Then, dry well and apply moisturizer, but
not between the toes or in skin folds since excess moisture in these areas can lead
to fungal infections. Try using a humidifier in your home during cold, dry weather.
People with diabetes also have a tendency to develop calluses over pressure points
on their toes. These calluses can also develop into ulcers. Calluses can usually be
safely rubbed down with a pumice stone and can be largely avoided by wearing custom-designed
diabetic shoes and inserts.
Vaginal yeast infections, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm show up as itchy,
red rashes, sometimes with tiny blisters. Oftentimes, fungal infections can be caused
by Candida albicans, a fungus that takes hold in warm, moist folds of skin.
To prevent fungal infections, keep your skin clean, and dry well after bathing. If
you get a fungal infection, tell your healthcare provider. You may need prescription
Sores that are red, swollen, and painful may be due to bacterial infections. Styes
(an infected eyelid gland), boils, and folliculitis (an infected hair follicle) are
common. A carbuncle is a deeper skin infection. Styes, boils, and carbuncles are commonly
caused by Staphylococcus (“staph”) bacteria.
To prevent bacterial infections, take care of dry skin and avoid scratching it. Scratching
can crack the skin, allowing an infection to start. Inspect your feet every day, and
clean and bandage sores and cuts. Keep blood sugar controlled so that you can better
prevent a bacterial infection. Check your skin daily. If a problem doesn’t go away,
or you think you have an infection, see your healthcare provider right away.