Dry skin in diabetes: skin care tips

Dry skin in diabetes: skin care tips

 Many people have problems with dry skin . However, patients with diabetes are particularly often plagued by rough, itchy and cracked skin because the altered metabolism also affects the skin. Four out of five people with diabetes suffer from skin problems such as dry skin (e.g. on hands and feet), cracks, nail fungusathlete’s foot and wounds that heal poorly. Reasonable blood sugar control and intensive skin care offer protection.

Dry skin: mainly affects the upper layers of the skin

Above all, the epidermis, with its horny layer, is affected by diabetes. Their job is to protect the body from dehydration, pathogens and pollutants. It, therefore, has an important protective function for our body.

The underlying dermis supplies this top layer of skin. This is where the blood vessels, nerves, sweat and sebaceous glands are located. If the high blood sugar damages these, they can no longer work properly. The skin no longer receives enough nutrients and oxygen.

The result is that it can no longer store moisture as usual and dries out faster.


Impaired fat production in diabetes

The skin’s fat production in the sebaceous glands is usually out of balance in people with diabetes. The fatty film on the cornea gets “holes” and can no longer reliably protect the skin underneath from environmental influences. In addition, this biological protective acid mantle depends on a slightly acidic environment with a pH of around 5.5.

Incorrect care, such as using alkaline soaps, hot water, and inferior creams, can weaken this natural skin barrier. The skin becomes rough, cracked, scaly, tense and itches uncomfortably. She is also more prone to skin diseases or allergies in this state. Products with perfumes, fragrances and preservatives can also irritate the skin.

People with diabetes often have dry feet.

Hands, face, legs and feet are particularly often affected by dry skin.

The feet, in particular, are the focus of care for people with diabetes. Circulatory and nerve disorders due to the disease are common in this location, which is far from the heart. Sweat production decreases and makes the skin brittle, cracked and weakened. Bacteria and fungi have an easy time of it.

In addition, the ability to feel can be impaired by damaged nerves and circulatory disorders. For example, infections and wounds or pressure points remain undetected for longer and heal more slowly, leading to extensive inflammation. This secondary disease is known as diabetic foot.

People with diabetes should, therefore, pay particular attention to their feet and, if necessary, have them treated by a professional pedicurist.


Diabetes: optimal and consistent care

With diabetes, the be-all and end-all is to keep the skin from drying out and to care for it gently. Many tend to use a rich cream when they have dry skin. However, well-intentioned care with a greasy cream can have the opposite effect. Because with such creams, a smooth film covers the skin, compressing the pores. This can impair the natural respiratory and oxygen exchange functions.

However, people with diabetes should not wholly do without fat when caring for dry skin because the lipids lay on the skin like a protective film, thus forming a barrier to the environment and protecting it from drying out.

Instead of rich fat creams or ointments, an oil-in-water emulsion (OW emulsion) is recommended. The OW emulsion has a high water content; fats and oil are finely dissolved. As a result, OW emulsions provide a lot of moisture but still allow the skin to breathe freely. In addition, they leave no greasy film on the skin or clothing. An OW emulsion, for example, in the form of a special cream foam, is recommended for rough skin with tension and itching.

Even with an extensive care selection, experts recommend switching between the products sparingly. Otherwise, the risk of allergies increases significantly. Anyone satisfied with their care series should, therefore, stick with it.

Incidentally, proper sun protection for people with diabetes is critical to protect the skin from additional damage caused by UV radiation.

Skin cream with urea for diabetes

Using a moisturizing cream or lotion is especially good for diabetic skin. Dermatologists and pharmacists recommend creams with ingredients from skin-related lipid complexes. Substances in the skin’s barrier can lead the skin to the necessary balance and are usually well tolerated.

Many products that have been specially developed for diabetic skin contain urea. Urea is known for its ability to bind moisture to a large extent and thus relieve itching. The concentration of urea, the natural component of the skin, is up to 90 per cent lower in people with diabetes than in healthy people.

An active ingredient combination of urea and lactate has proved particularly effective in caring for the skin of people with diabetes. Depending on the area of ​​application, different products are recommended:

  • Creams and cream foams with ten per cent urea are available in pharmacies, especially for foot care. Ingredients such as witch hazel and lavender oil also have a circulation-enhancing, invigorating and disinfecting effect.
  • Five per cent urea is sufficient for facial skin. Glycerine or allantoin also provides more moisture.

Body care: Do not stress skin

In addition to using suitable creams, lotions, or care foams for diabetes, it is just as essential to protect the skin generally. Instead of long baths, short showers are advisable because the skin should always be protected against loss of moisture and fat.

Mild and high-quality products are also recommended for skin and facial care. The cosmetics used should also ideally be free of:

  • preservatives
  • perfume
  • dyes


Six Body Cleansing Tips

People with diabetes should observe the following tips for cleaning their bodies properly:

  1. The sensitive parts of the body, such as hands, legs and feet, should be cleaned daily with a mild, pH-neutral soap or a moisturizing shower oil and warm (not too hot) water. The same applies to parts of the body that sweat profusely.
  2. Moisturizing cleansing lotions are ideal for facial cleansing.
  3. Otherwise, water is sufficient. Excessive cleaning is more likely to damage the skin.
  4. Fat-donating bath oils are superior when bathing in the tub. However, people with diabetes should not stay here for more than ten minutes. Otherwise, the skin swells up too much and dries out unnecessarily. The same applies to foot baths.
  5. After washing, showering or bathing, dry your skin with a soft towel. Pay particular attention to skin folds on the elbows, under the breast, and between the toes. Warm, humid places are the favourite haunts of bacteria and fungi, such as athlete’s foot.
  6. Then, a special care cream for people with diabetes is applied.

Suitable for the skin: Plenty of fluids and a healthy diet

In addition to consistent skin care for diabetics, you can do something good for your skin and yourself by drinking plenty of water daily. In the case of diabetes,  at least two litres of water per day are recommended to provide the body with enough liquid from the inside and, thus, the skin. A healthy diet can also have a positive effect on the complexion.

Why are diabetes more likely to have skin problems?

The exact reason why skin problems such as dry skin are so common in people with diabetes is not fully understood. It is assumed that various metabolic processes contribute to this. What is certain is that people with poorly controlled blood sugar levels are more frequently affected by skin problems.

The disease can also weaken the immune system and thus increase susceptibility to infections. In addition, in rare cases, allergic rashes or light sensitivity can also result from the diabetes medication. Suppose those affected regularly inject insulin into the same part of the body. In that case, so-called lipodystrophies can also form at the injection site, which usually manifests themselves as hardening or thickening of the subcutaneous fatty tissue. In such cases, you should always consult a doctor.


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