Protect Your Skin if You Have Diabetes

Skin care is especially important for people who have diabetes.  Healthy skin helps protect the body from germs that can cause infections.  Diabetes can limit the flow of blood to the surface of the skin, which makes it harder for minor skin irritations to heal.  When sores or other skin wounds develop, they can provide open access for serious infections to enter the body.

Diabetes is the condition that results when the body is not able to process sugar or glucose effectively. People with diabetes often have higher than normal amounts of sugar in their blood.  This can affect the health of their skin by restricting the flow of oxygen and white blood cells to the surface of the skin, which can make it harder for minor wounds to heal.  High blood sugar also provides an ample source of nourishment for germs that can feed on sugar.  This allows them to grow and multiply quickly, spreading the infection.

People with diabetes who have nerve damage may not be able to feel sores or other irritations on their skin. If you have diabetes, it is important to check your skin regularly to look for wounds that need treatment or that need to be watched to make sure they heal.   Be sure to check your feet including between your toes, and always wear shoes that fit well to prevent damage to your feet.

When sugar levels are high, your body may trigger the kidneys to filter more water to try to flush excess sugar out of the blood.  This loss of fluid can make the skin dry and lead to cracking or sores. You can help protect your skin from drying out by using a good moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.  If you have especially dry skin, ask your healthcare provider to recommend a moisturizer that may be more effective for you.

Summer sun can cause even more skin problems for people with diabetes. During the warm summer months, take extra care to protect your skin from the sun.  Always wear sunscreen rated as SPF 30 or higher.  The larger the number, the more protection the sunscreen will provide.  Make sure you apply sunscreen to all visible skin, not just the portions that are easy to reach.  And be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours if you are out in the sun, or every time you come out of the water. If you do get sunburned, try to keep the skin hydrated to prevent cracking and peeling.  Watch it carefully to make sure the skin heals.

If you have a severe sunburn or if you have cracks or sores on your skin that won’t heal, see your health care provider to prevent further problems.

Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for


American Diabetes Association. Living With Diabetes: Skin Care. Web. May 5, 2012.

Eastbay Acne & Skin Care Clinic. Diabetic Skin Care. Web. May 5, 2012.

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your feet and skin healthy. Web. May 5, 2012.

Diabetes Forecast. 9 Skin Care Tips for Sun Safety. Tracey Neithercott. Web. May 5, 2012.

Related Links:

Diabetes and Skin-care
Anti-Aging Skincare Tips: What's all this fuss over SPF?
Looking Young the Natural Way

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