Skin care is an important factor for people with diabetes. Skin conditions can be more likely amongst diabetics, and reduced sensitivity of nerves and circulation can often make it harder to spot emerging skin problems.
The skin on our feet need particular attention as the presence of diabetic neuropathy can sometimes lead to skin issues not being identified until an advanced stage, when they can cause serious problems.
Why are diabetics more prone to skin problems?
People with diabetes may experience greater loss of fluid from the body due to high blood glucose levels, which can cause dry skin on the legs, elbows, feet and other areas of the body.
If dry skin becomes cracked, germs can get into these areas and cause infection, meaning that taking care of the skin is essential.
Keeping the skin, particularly of your feet, in good condition should be a priority for people with diabetes.
What skin problems particularly affect people with diabetes?
As well as dry and cracked skin, a number of specific skin problems are closely linked to diabetes.
Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD)
Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD) affects the shins and occurs gradually. It is a patch of plaque that can range in colour from yellow to purple.
The skin in this area can get thin and ulcerate. When it heals, NLD can leave a brownish scar. The causes of NLD are unknown, but it affects more people with type 1 diabetes.
Diabetic Dermopathy is also a common skin problem for people with diabetes. Sometimes known as shin spots, this condition leaves round, raised lesions that can turn into ulcers
Bullosis Diabeticorum are small-large nodules underneath the skin, similar to subcutaneous blisters. Again, the cause is unknown.
Acanthosis Nigricans, more common amongst Hispanic people and African Americans, causes brown and black lesions under the skin.
Tips for diabetic skin care
Skin care for people with diabetes is really no different to that which is required by those who don’t have diabetes. However, a few extra skin care tips can help ensure and maintain healthy skin.
- Wash with a mild, neutral soap and make sure that as well as rinsing you also dry yourself. This may include drying between your toes, under your arms, and anywhere else that water can hide.
- Use a moisturising lotion to keep you skin soft and moist. This type of cream is widely available and can make a huge difference.
- Keeping hydrated can help with keeping your skin moist and healthy.
- Wear loose-fitting underwear made from 100% cotton – this allows a healthy through flow of air.
- Consider wearing special socks and shoes if you have neuropathy and are worried about skin care of your feet.
- Keep a close eye on any dry or red spots on your skin, and be ready to act by ontacting your healthcare professional sooner rather than later.
- Keep an extra close eye on any areas affected by neuropathy and make sure to seek professional advice at an early stage.
- Seek medical advice if you have persistent dry skin as this can lead to infections, which can quickly develop into serious complications.
If your skin problems worsen over time, see a doctor immediately.