People with diabetes are lesser known to the fact of common issues they may face related to skin. Diabetic sufferers are well aware to regularly check blood sugar levels, alter or control eating habits and take insulin whenever needed. But diabetes can affect the skin in various ways and hence Diabetic Skin Care is a must. Skin disorders and diabetes is so common that as many as 1 in 3 diabetics will have a skin condition at some point in their lifetime.
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Some skin conditions are unique in nature affecting people with diabetes. While some other issues are common in people with diabetes because of various reasons. These skin issues are due to high glucose level which leads to dry skin, further leading to itching, cracking, trouble healing wounds, infection, and other skin disorders. Likewise, a weak immune system and poor blood flow to certain body parts can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. Some uncommon skin conditions like rosacea or sometimes yellow skin may occur due to insulin injections.
Apart from the above mentioned, there are many skin disorders that people with diabetes may experience. But the good news is that many of these skin issues are treatable if you catch them early. They can also be prevented by healthy blood sugar management and following some smart skincare tips.
Here in this article, I would brief you on common skin issues that people with diabetes may suffer. And also some smart skincare tips for you to help prevent these skin conditions.
Common Issues: Skin and Diabetes
Itchy skin is also commonly known as pruritus which is due to dry skin, yeast infection or poor blood circulation. When the root cause of itching is poor blood circulation, then it is more likely to feel it in your lower part of body i.e. legs and feet. Itching is easily treatable by following smart skincare tips, such as limit bathing frequency, use mild soap with moisturizer, apply some lotion to maintain dry skin moisturized for long and prevent itching.
Anyone can have a bacterial or Staphylococcus/ staph skin infections, but, people with diabetes are more prone to have this common and serious skin issues. When hair follicles are irritated, these bacteria cause several kinds of Bacterial infections such as Boils and Inflamed bump. Other common bacterial infections are:
- Styes, which are infections of the glands of the eyelid
- Nail infections
- Folliculitis, which are infections of the hair follicles
- Carbuncles, which are deep infections of the skin and the tissue beneath
- Infections around the nails
Generally, the area around the infection i.e. the inflamed tissues will be hot, red, painful, and swollen. Previously, bacterial infections were fatal for people with diabetes. Whereas, today, we can treat these infections with antibiotics pills and better ways of blood sugar control. As a result, there are only exceptional cases of death. Also smart skincare tips like using antibiotic creams will also clear these skin issues. However, consulting your doctor and using antibiotic creams as per doctor prescription is always a better idea.
Fungal infections are common skin issues in people with diabetes. Usually, the warm, moist areas of the skin such as armpit, between the toes and groin are the perfect place for these infections to develop. The common fungal infections include:
- Jock itch: red, itchy area on the genitals and the inside of the thighs
- Athlete’s foot: the skin between the toes is affected
- Ringworm: a ring-shaped itchy patch or blister that appears on the feet, groin, chest, stomach, scalp, or nails
- Vaginal infection: more common in women with diabetes
The yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans mainly causes various fungal infections in people with diabetes. Candida albicans is more likely to affect vaginas in women with diabetes. Another common fungal infection known as angular cheilitis, is seen like small cuts and is more likely to occur on the corners of the mouth. Onychomycosis, a type of fungus grows in between the toes and fingers, and in or around the nails. This fungus may cause itchy, bright-red rashes and are surrounded by tiny blisters, pus bumps, and scales.
Antifungal Medicines is very useful in treating fungal infections. Visit your doctor to know the right antifungal medicine. Also, proper skin care and blood sugar level control are smart skincare tips to consider as a preventable measure.
Acanthosis nigricans is most common skin issues in people with type 2 diabetes. It also usually strikes to overweight people. Acanthosis nigricans occurs in the skin folds/ creases and becomes dark, thick, and velvety. It appears to look like a small wart and turns the skin tan or brown. This common skin condition occurs on the sides or back of the neck, armpits, under the breast, and groin. This skin issue is usually the start of diabetes and so it is apt to consult a doctor for proper diagnoses.
There is no exact cure to Acanthosis nigricans but reducing weight may improve skin appearance. Using smart skincare tips like some creams may help the spot to look better.
Vitiligo, skin disorder affects your skin color and is more common in people with type 1 diabetes. It is a condition in which the skin cells that make melanin or brown pigmentation are damaged. This eventually leads to uneven, blotchy, discolored patches occurring on the hands, stomach or chest. They can also show up on the face around the mouth, nose, and eyes. The actual cause of vitiligo is yet to uncover. But experts consider it is an autoimmune issue like type 1 diabetes. Some research findings have found links between the two conditions.
Smart skincare tips such as using topical steroid creams, ultraviolet light therapy or micro-pigmentation (tattooing) are some of the treatment options. It is also essential to apply sunscreen with minimum 30 SPF or higher to prevent sunburn on your discolored skin as it has no natural sun protection.
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Diabetic Dermopathy is a common skin condition due to the changes in the skin’s small blood vessels. The patches of diabetic Dermopathy may be round or oval that appears like light brown, scaly patches on the thin skin of shins. Usually, these patches are mistaken as age spots. This skin issue is not harmful but sometime may open up itches or burns. It is seen on the front of both legs but not affected to the same extent. It is a harmless skin condition and hence does not require medicine treatment. Some smart skincare tips can help improve skin condition.
Smart Diabetic Skin Care Tips For Common Skin Issues
To help prevent skin conditions getting worse for diabetes people, consider some common smart skincare tips as mentioned beneath:
- Diabetes people are likely to have dry skin and more prone to have fungal or bacterial infections so maintaining and controlling diabetes is first essential tip prior to skincare.
- Keep skin clean and dry by using talcum powder in areas such as armpits and groin. Avoid rubbing your skin.
- Smart skincare tip for dry skin is to avoid hot baths, showers or bubble baths. Using moisturizing soap, standard skin lotion is suggested to keep skin moist. Do not rub lotions between toes as this extra moisture may encourage fungus growth.
- Scratching dry or itchy skin is not a smart skincare act as it can open skin pores, allowing the infection to develop. Keeping skin well moisturized will prevent chapping, particularly in cold or windy seasons.
- Treating cuts right away is important for diabetics. Wash minor cuts immediately with soap and water. Also, wrap them with a sterile bandage. If your doctor suggests, you can use an antibiotic cream or ointment. For major cuts, burns, or infection, you should consult your doctor immediately.
- In cold, dry seasons, keep your home more humid and bathe less during this weather.
- Using mild shampoos and no feminine hygiene sprays is another smart skincare tip.
- Another smart skin care tip is to take utmost care of your feet. Keep a daily check for any sores or cuts on them. Wear broad, flat shoes which fit perfectly and check them before wearing.
- Inspect skin regularly for red spots, bumps or any other skin abnormalities.
- See a dermatologist/ skin doctor for any skin issues if it is not cured by you.
People with diabetes are more likely to have any common skin issues and may not heal as fast as others. Thus, it is important for them to regularly monitor their skin, especially arms and feet. Usually, dryness and itching can be self-treated, but more severe skin conditions should be treated by a doctor. However, smart skincare tips as mentioned in this article can deal with common skin issues.