One of the biggest reasons for skin dryness is uncontrolled blood sugar and regardless how much you moisturize, getting your glucose levels under control should be your first priority. People with diabetes have two high priorities, to keep their glucose levels under control and to pay attention to their skin.
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These two things go hand in hand because if one is off, then high glucose can trigger all sorts of skin problems. This is why diet and exercise, as well as making sure you take your medications is so important. High blood sugar decreases your immune system and can make skin more susceptible to bacterial infection and fungus.
Robert Carrara, Certified Diabetes Educator at Presence Mercy Medical Center, explains that people with diabetes always have to make sure they’re well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and keeping their skin moisturized. “You should already have a moisturizing regimen, typically when you get out of the shower and prevent using very hot water because that dries out skin too,” explains Carrara.
Other tips to keep skin looking good are to decrease sugar intake, especially refined or processed carbohydrates from their diet. This is something to keep in mind for their overall skin health. “Eat foods that have plenty of vitamins that will benefit your skin, such as yellow or orange foods that contain Beta Keratin, like berries which are very high in antioxidants,” says Carrara. Other healthy fats diabetics should be eating are those high in Vitamin E, like nuts, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon, which has fish oil, beans or legumes that are really high in antioxidants.
“Diabetics—their skin is going to be more prone to dryness and dry skin is going to be more prone to crack and that invites bacterial infections, especially if they’re scratching their dry skin, so daily moisturizing is extremely important,” he says. When purchasing moisturizers make sure to look for two ingredients in particular, petrolatum, which is petroleum jelly and Glycerin. These are natural humectants, meaning they attract water because when it is applied to the skin it seals moisture and prevents it from escaping. This is the ingredient that helps prevent dry skin.
“Be sure that when you moisturize your feet, you don’t use moisturizer between their toes because you don’t want to create a super moist environment because extra moisture can be an issue as well and helps develop fungus and yeast infections,” adds Carrara. Wear cotton socks that are breathable, there are a variety of diabetic socks in the market that are made to fit loose around the ankles. Put them on after you moisturize your skin.
“Not smoking is something I always advice because smoking can damage the walls of the arteries and cause blood vessels to grow especially those in the feet which reduce good blood flow,” he says.