Diabetes makes you more likely to get a wide range of skin problems. But you can do a lot to keep yours healthy. These simple tips can help.
Get educated. One key to preventing problems is to understand what causes them. Talk to your doctor. Learn about the complications, what your particular risks are, and how you can lower them.
Control your diabetes. Get — and keep — your blood sugar within a normal range. If you already have skin problems, you can stop them from getting worse. Strive for a healthy weight, eat right, cut back on salt, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and exercise. That’s a tall order, but talk to your health care team for support.
Be aware. If you have diabetic nerve damage, which is called neuropathy, you could have an infected cut, scratch, or skin puncture and not know it. Don’t let a small problem turn into a big one. Be aware of your body. Check your legs, ankles, feet, and in between your toes every day for new wounds or old ones that never seem to heal.
Treat wounds and sores. Don’t neglect them. If you find a nick, a scratch, a small cut, or anything that isn’t healing or that worries you, talk to your doctor right away.
Cover up. This simple first line of defense can help you avoid the cuts and scratches that can lead to infection. Whether you’re gardening or walking the dog, cover your legs with long pants and your feet with flat, well-fitting shoes.
Prevent dry skin. Skin that’s too dry can crack, itch, and get infected.
Keep your skin — especially at armpits, toes, and groin — clean and dry, but not too dry.
Take short, lukewarm showers or baths and use mild soaps and shampoos when you wash. Skip deodorant or scented cleansers, which can be harsh on sensitive skin.
Moisturize if your skin is dry. The best time is right after a shower or bath, when it’s still moist.
Dry well by patting gently. Don’t rub. Focus on underarms, between legs, under breasts, and between toes.
Basic skin care can go far toward helping you prevent problems later on. If you have questions or if a cut, scrape, or bruise worries you, talk to your doctor or dermatologist right away.