If you’re a diabetic with dry skin, you’re not alone. Nearly half of all people living with diabetes suffer from this common side effect. Dry skin can be itchy and uncomfortable, and it can also lead to more serious problems like infection. Fortunately, with proper care, you can keep your skin healthy and looking its best.
Whether you’re new to diabetes or have been living with it for years, these seven skincare tips can help you manage your dry skin.
1. Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Under Control
If you have diabetes, your first line of defense against dry skin is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. High blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in your skin, leading to a loss of moisture and elasticity. The best way to keep your blood sugar levels in check is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and take your diabetes medication as prescribed.
If you can’t control your blood sugar levels with lifestyle changes alone, talk to your doctor about adding insulin or other medications to your treatment plan. With your blood sugar levels under control, you’ll be less likely to develop skin conditions, like dry skin and other complications of diabetes.
2. Use a Mild Cleanser
Avoid soap, which can strip away natural oils and worsen dry skin. Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser that won’t irritate your skin. Look for one that contains natural moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin or aloe vera. Apply cleanser to your face and neck using circular motions. Gently massage the cleanser into your skin for at least 30 seconds before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.
Avoid hot water, which can further dry out your skin. When you shower or bathe, limit yourself to no more than 20 minutes. And be sure to use a mild, fragrance-free soap. Cleansing your skin daily will help remove dirt, oil, and other irritants that can aggravate dry skin. Don’t forget about your feet, too—opt for diabetic foot care products that work to hydrate and protect your skin.
3. Moisturize Regularly
Apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing while your skin is still damp. This will help lock in moisture and prevent dryness. Choose a product that’s designed for sensitive skin and free of fragrances, dyes, and other potential irritants. Apply the moisturizer several times a day, especially after washing your hands. Be sure to choose a hypoallergenic moisturizer that won’t clog your pores. This will also help get rid of other skin problems, like acne.
Moisturized skin is less likely to crack and provides a barrier against infection. You may also want to consider using a humidifier at home or at work to add moisture to the air and help prevent dry skin. Just be sure to clean it regularly to avoid mold growth. The more moisturized your skin is, the less likely it is to develop dryness.
4. Pat Your Skin Dry
Instead of rubbing your skin dry with a towel, gently pat it until it’s just damp. This will help avoid skin irritation and relieve dry skin. And be sure to use a soft towel. A harsh one can further irritate your skin. Most people are used to quickly drying off after a shower, but with diabetic dry skin, it’s important to take your time and be gentle.
Scraping away at dead skin cells will only aggravate your skin and make it more likely to become infected. Gently patting your skin dry after a shower or bath will help keep your skin healthy and hydrated. As mentioned above, follow that up with a moisturizer to help trap in that moisture.
5. Apply a Skin Repair Cream
If you have diabetic dry skin, you know how frustrating it can be to find a skincare routine that works. Your skin is delicate and often feels tight, itchy, and cracked. To soothe your skin and prevent further irritation, look for a repair cream containing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and niacinamide. Apply the cream to damp skin after cleansing, and be sure to massage it in gently.
With so many products available, it’s vital to select the right skin repair cream for your type of skin. You’ll want a cream that is gentle and effective on your skin without being too harsh. Be sure to select a cream that is also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores.
6. Choose Non-Irritating Fabrics
When it comes to clothing, choose natural fibers like cotton. Avoid wool and other rough fabrics that can irritate your skin. If you must wear synthetic fabrics, look for ones that are labeled “hypoallergenic” or “sensitive skin”. These fabrics are less likely to cause irritation and skin problems. Avoid tight clothing, as it can rub and irritate your skin.
If you must wear tight clothing, put a thin layer of cotton fabric between your skin and the clothing. This will help reduce irritation. Wearing the right fabrics can make a big difference in how your skin feels. Also, wash your clothes in a mild detergent without added fragrances. Exposing your dry skin to harsh chemicals can make the problem worse.
7. Protect Your Skin
Protecting your vulnerable diabetic dry skin isn’t just about using medical-grade skincare products but also about modifying your daily habits to become more gentle on your skin. Here are some tips:
- Use sunscreen to protect your diabetic skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Wear protective clothing when you go outside in hot or cold weather. This means covering exposed areas of skin with a hat, scarf, and gloves.
- When you shower, bathe, or wash your face, use lukewarm water instead of hot.
Diabetes dry skin doesn’t have to be a part of your life. With a little effort, you can have healthy, hydrated skin. Try these tips and see for yourself.
Managing diabetes and taking care of your skin doesn’t have to be challenging. You just need to find the right skincare routine and products for your skin type. By following the skincare tips above, you can help keep your skin healthy and hydrated. If you have any concerns about your skin or are experiencing persistent symptoms, be sure to speak with a dermatologist or healthcare provider.
They can help you create a skincare routine that’s right for you. Don’t forget to get your skin checked regularly and take care of it the best way you can.
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.