Taking care of your skin isn’t just about good looks. Skin care is an important part of staying healthy when you have diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to have skin issues. What’s more, even small problems like cuts or scrapes can morph into serious ones.

Decreased circulation is one reason people with diabetes may have skin issues. The nutrients in blood that can help a wound heal may not reach a damaged area. People with diabetes are also at risk for neuropathy, or nerve damage. This means that they may be less likely to feel when their skin is damaged.

The good news: Many skin conditions can be prevented in people with diabetes. They’re also easy to treat if caught early.

Making sure your blood sugar is well-managed is one important way to keep skin problems at bay. People with high blood sugar levels tend to have dry skin. Their bodies also have more trouble fighting harmful bacteria.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your skin in top shape:

1. Keep skin moisturized

People with diabetes are more likely to get dry skin. This is an even bigger risk during the winter, when cold temps, wind and dry air can dehydrate skin even more. Slathering your body with lotion after you shower can be a helpful strategy to avoid dry skin. Using a humidifier during the cold, dry months is another good move.

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 2. Take care of your feet

Every day, check your feet for sores and cuts. This allows you to treat them before they worsen. Make sure the space between your toes is dry before putting socks on. While it’s important to moisturize your body, do not use moisturizer between your toes. Moisturizer in unventilated places can lead to bacterial growth. Make sure the shoes you wear fit you well, with some room for feet to swell.

3. Treat cuts right away

A thorough wash with soap and water is a smart strategy for avoiding infections. If your doctor says it’s OK, you can also use an antibiotic cream or ointment. Cover with gauze. If the cut is more serious, see a doctor immediately.

4. Be nice to your nails

Keep your nails cut short and filed neatly so they are less likely to cut or tear your skin. Do not cut your cuticles, which could allow bacteria to get into your body. And avoid getting a pedicure from anyone other than a podiatrist—the risk of infection is too high.

A woman pumping hand lotion out of a bottle to apply to her hands

5. Shower smart

Whether you take a shower or a bath, make sure the water is at a moderate temperature. Hot water can pull moisture from your skin and worsen dryness. You may even consider cutting back on bathing to help keep moisture in during the cold, dry months.

Start a dermatology consult now

6. Consult a dermatologist

If you’re not sure about a skin problem, check in with an expert. Start a virtual consult anytime with one of our U.S. board-certified dermatologists. You can upload photos of your skin issue online or by app. In 24 hours or less, you’ll get a diagnosis, customized treatment plan and prescriptions if needed.

Read more about how Teladoc helped one member with a crucial skin diagnosis. 

Published March 17, 2022

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