Winter often brings frigid temperatures and bone-chilling winds—and these conditions can dry out your skin. For people with diabetes, dry skin can lead to cracks on the hands and feet. And that can open the door to bacterial and fungal infections, which are sometimes brought on by chronic high blood glucose. To avoid cracks and possible infection, it’s important to keep skin healthy with a proper skin care routine.
1. Protect Your Face
Slather on a moisturizer with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to protect your skin from dryness and sunburn, even in the winter. Use the moisturizer after washing your face in the morning and use another moisturizer without sunscreen at night before you go to bed.
2. Use Lip Emollients
Your lips are often exposed to the elements. Using lip emollients will prevent them from chapping. Look for a few ingredients, such as petroleum jelly, mineral oil or shea butter, and avoid products with extra chemicals or herbal ingredients, which can irritate lips.
3. Cover Your Hands
Invest in a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from the cold. Moisturize regularly with creams, rather than lotions. Petroleum jelly, mineral oil, glycerin and shea butter ingredients are best, but olive, canola, and coconut oil are also good moisturizers in a pinch.
4. Moisturize Fingers
Dry skin cells can build up on the surface of your fingertips, making it difficult to get a blood sample from finger pricks to test blood glucose. This can lead to multiple pricks and irritation. Hand creams can help heal those tiny wounds and moisturize the skin.
5. Reduce Itch
People with diabetes are prone to itchy skin. High blood glucose can cause yeast infections, dryness and poor circulation, leading to the itchiness. Use moisturizing body washes in the shower, and an after-shower moisturizer, to keep skin supple. Consider taking an antihistamine to help ease the urge to scratch.
6. Mind the Folds
Skin fold areas, such as under the breasts and in the groin, tend to get moist and sweaty, which can promote yeast infections. Keep these areas a little drier, and use anti-fungal power to prevent an overgrowth of yeast.
7. Skip Hot Showers
Turn down the nozzle in your shower to a warm temperature instead of piping hot. Too much heat dries out and irritates skin, and can make it itch even more.
8. Sport Good Footwear
Always wear proper fitting socks and close-toed shoes. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and loss of sensation in the feet. You may not know if you’re developing a blister or other abrasion, which can then become infected.
9. Watch your Feet
Nerve damage can contribute to lack of sweating in the feet, which is another cause of dryness. Give your feet a little extra moisturizing if you have poor circulation. But keep the area between your toes a little drier than other parts of the foot to prevent fungal infections.
By Allison Tsai
For Diabetes Forcast magazine