A common condition faced by many persons with diabetes is dry skin. It is a condition that is relatively easy to treat once compliance is in
the mix. Daily foot care is critical in the success of eradicating such. Being motivated, having a product that is effective and easy to use, and mobility/ accessibility to the feet are critical elements to form the whole.
People with diabetes are prone to dry skin, particularly when blood glucose levels run high. This causes the body to lose fluids and skin to become dry. Dry skin can crack and itch, which can lead to infections. You may also get dry skin with diabetes if you have neuropathy. The nerves in the legs and feet may not get the message to sweat, which is necessary to keep skin soft and moist.
What is Dry Skin?
Rough, dry and scaly skin affects at least 75 percent of people with diabetes over the age of 64. Dry skin is aesthetically unappealing, uncomfortable, itchy, and can set the stage for eczema like outbreaks and other skin infections. Dry skin covered with scale may appear in a generalised pattern, or in localised round patches. In more severe cases, the skin loses its suppleness and cracks with erythema (redness or inflammation), becoming evident in and around the involved areas. Pruritus (itching), is the most prominent feature of this condition. Rubbing and scratching can aggravate dry skin, causing more itching and inflammation, and potentially leading to infection. Dry skin can be localised, such as on the legs, feet, hands and/or face, or it can progress to all the skin.
Dry skin is usually caused in large part by environmental factors. Soaps, detergents, hot baths and showers remove the skin’s natural oils (sebum), and promote dry skin. When you run the water in your shower, keep the temperature cool to lukewarm. In addition, in people with diabetes, damage to small blood vessels and to small nerves may further promote dry skin and its complications.
It is important to treat dry skin because:
- – It can cause intense itching and irritation.
- – It can lead to secondary infection, localised folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles on the skin), or even cellulitis
- – It can lead to ulceration, particularly on diabetic feet with loss of sensation.
- – Daily treatment can prevent these problems and complications.
The skin should be protected by wearing gloves when using cleaning agents, solvents and other household detergents. A good skin tip is to blot yourself dry after showering, leaving some water on the skin. The emollient can then be applied to trap some of the moisture in the skin. To this regimen can be added to products containing 10 to twenty percent urea, that can hold moisture in the skin. Creams and lotions are generally preferred by people, as they are less greasy and thus more cosmetically acceptable.
The “diabetic foot” is a special case in point, very prone as it is to infection and ulceration. Roughness, dryness and fissuring require prompt treatment to avoid more serious consequences. A similar regimen of emollient and urea-containing preparations can be use. The simple act of putting a cream or lotion on the foot daily also forces one to check the feet daily. Daily treatment of dry skin is a highly recommended, necessary, and cost-effective way of preventing further problems and complications.
Here are some other ways you can prevent skin problems with diabetes:
- – After you wash with soap, rinse and dry thoroughly in every nook and cranny of your body. Use a moisturiser, but not between your toes.
- – Avoid very hot baths and showers, which can dry your skin.
- – Inspect your body for red spots, blisters and sores that could lead to infection.
- – Look for any bumps or changes in appearance on your feet and have your doctor/ podiatrist look at your feet at least twice a year during your checkup.
- – Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water.
- – Keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
- – Control blood pressure and cholesterol by taking prescribed medications, which will improve circulation and keep your skin healthy.
- – Drink plenty of fluids, like water and caffeine-free, sugar-free drinks, to keep your skin hydrated.
If you notice any skin problems, let your health care provider know right away. Since today is World Diabetes Day, I wish to make a fervent appeal to be more vigilant about your health in response to this year’s theme “Eyes on Diabetes“. Remember, your health is your responsibility!
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!