Diabetes and Skin Care

Always let your Dermatologist, Esthetician, Manicurist, et cetera know if you have Diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that results in high levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Glucose is the main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and tissues, including brain cells, and is therefore vital to health. Insulin is the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the body, and inadequate amounts of insulin result in diabetes.

What is Diabetes?diabetes-types

Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in children, teens or young adults. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin. Daily injections of insulin are needed. The exact cause is unknown. Type 2 diabetes makes up approximately 90 percent of diabetes cases. It most often occurs in adulthood, but teens and young adults are now being diagnosed with it because of high obesity rates. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it.


Diabetes symptoms vary depending on the levels of blood sugar elevation. Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include: increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, mild high blood pressure, and frequent infections, such as gum or skin infections and vaginal or bladder infections.

Diabetes can affect every part of the body, including the skin. As many as one third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. In fact, such problems are sometimes the first sign that a person has diabetes. Luckily, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated if caught early.

Good Skin Care is Important!

There are several things you can do to head off skin problems:

Keep your diabetes well managed. People with high glucose levels tend to have dry skin and less ability to fend off harmful bacteria. Both conditions increase the risk of infection.

  • Keep skin clean and dry. Use talcum powder in areas where skin touches skin, such as armpits and groin.
  • Avoid very hot baths and showers. If your skin is dry, don’t use bubble baths. Moisturizing soaps may help. Afterward, use a standard skin lotion, but don’t put lotions between toes. The extra moisture there can encourage fungus to grow.
  • Prevent dry skin. Scratching dry or itchy skin can open it up and allow infection to set in. Moisturize your skin to prevent chapping, especially in cold or windy weather.
  • Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Do not use Mercurochrome antiseptic, alcohol, or iodine to clean skin because they are too harsh. Only use an antibiotic cream or ointment if your doctor says it’s okay. Cover minor cuts with sterile gauze. See a doctor right away if you get a major cut, burn, or infection.
  • During cold, dry months, keep your home more humid. Bathe less during this weather, if possible.
  • Use mild shampoos. Do not use feminine hygiene sprays.
  • See a Dermatologist about skin problems. (see below)
  • Take good care of your feet! Check them every day for sores and cuts. Wear broad, flat shoes that fit well. Check your shoes for foreign objects before putting them on.

Skin Care Complications
Diabetes frequently causes skin problems. Glucose attaches to protein and has an effect on the structure and function of that protein, and in the case of skin it accounts for visible changes. Increased cross-linking of collagen has been suggested as responsible for the generally thicker skin of diabetics compared to non-diabetics. Advanced glycosylation end products are probably responsible for yellowing of skin and nails. Increased viscosity of blood due to stiff red blood cell membranes results in engorgement of the fine blood vessels in skin, detected as redness of the face.
Anyone treating the skin of a person with diabetes should be aware of certain skin conditions linked to diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes can be associated with the darkening and thickening of certain areas of the skin, especially in the skin folds, loss of skin pigment resulting in patches of discolored skin and slower wound healing.

Attention to Manicures and Pedicures (see my article on choosing, “A Safe Nail Salon for a Mani-Pedi”)

Fungal nail infections, especially toenail infections are common in diabetics. Any esthetic procedure such as manicures and pedicures requires heightened vigilance since diabetes renders individuals more susceptible to infections.To avoid infections, technicians should sterilize equipment before and after use, and avoid manipulating cuticles or nicking the skin. For diabetic clients, vigorous use of a pumice stone or foot file is discouraged. Wound healing is slower in people with diabetes. Another precaution is to avoid the use of heat. People with diabetes may not register the pain of burning. When performing treatments on the feet, it is prudent to look for telltale signs such as dark splotches on the dermis, thinning of skin that causes shininess, or a yellowish plaque that forms over shins. Some people may be unaware that they have diabetes.

feet-handsPeople with diabetes are susceptible to developing infections. Some diabetes-related health issues, such as nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the extremities, increase the body’s vulnerability to infection. Particular attention should be paid to areas around nails and between the fingers and toes.

Diabetes is a contradiction for body waxing. The potential of tearing delicate skin gives bacteria an opportunity to enter the body. The waxing process also creates inflammation, which can trap bacteria beneath the skin.

While I’ve attempted to use
credible sources for information, this is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If there is a disparity between the information presented within this blog and the advice given by your medical professional, please follow the medical professional’s advice as he/she will know you and your medical circumstances.

Thank You For Your Comments Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: