The high blood glucose levels associated with difficult to control or uncontrolled diabetes affect the cardiovascular system. Your skin gets all of its nutrients through the blood, so cardiovascular issues heavily contribute to the dry, itchy skin that can plague those with diabetes. Dry skin can even be one of the first warning signs of diabetes. A little dry skin may not seem like a serious issue, but it can lead to open wounds and dangerous infections. A few simple tips to relieve itchy diabetic skin can make you more comfortable and protect you from injury and health complications.
Diabetes and Dry Skin
Prolonged high glucose levels narrow the blood vessels and capillaries that supply blood to the skin. Those narrowed capillaries prevent the skin from getting all the moisture and nutrients it needs. The extremities like the feet and toes, where more tiny capillaries are located, are particularly vulnerable to this effect.
Dry skin gets damaged more easily than moist skin. It’s kind of like dough. Dry dough crumbles and falls apart, whereas moist dough can stretch, lengthen, and change shape. You can create an open wound in dry skin simply by scratching it. Then, the same lack of blood flow that started the dry skin then contributes to poor healing abilities because the cells needed for healing travel through the blood.
The sum total of these effects makes people with diabetes more prone to infection and slow to heal. Preventing dry skin (and the consequent potential for infection) can protect you from these types of skin-related complications.
Tips On How to Relieve Dry Skin
1. Consistent Diabetes Management
A list about diabetic skin health would be incomplete without a reminder of maintaining consistent diabetes management. At times, it’s a difficult, exhausting, and overwhelming battle to control your blood sugar, but the rewards protect you from life-altering injuries and health complications.
2. Avoid Long, Hot Baths or Showers
Long steamy baths or showers may feel good at the time, but they leave behind hot, dry skin. You don’t need to take a cold shower by any means, but avoid water temperatures that turn your skin red. Keep those baths and showers to a reasonable time limit of ten minutes or less. Be wary of soaps and cleansers with synthetic fragrances and dyes, which can be irritating to the skin. You want gentle products designed to maintain the skin’s natural moisture.
3. Moisturize the Skin Daily
Well-moisturized skin can take the pressure and tension of everyday activities better than dry, brittle skin. Diabetic skin’s susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections requires special moisturizing care. For example, fungal infections often start between the toes or in skin creases like in the groin or at the elbow, where the skin stays too moist.
Use a moisturizer with anti-fungal properties like VitalFit’s Day Moisturizer. This type of moisturizer doesn’t create a haven for fungus and other potential pathogens in the skin’s creases and folds. Apply your day moisturizer first thing in the morning. If you shower in the morning, apply it after the shower.
4. Moisturize at Night
A day of walking, perspiring, and working can be hard on your body’s protective layer, and the skin rests and repairs itself at night. Moisturizing at night gives the skin a nighttime boost in this healing process. VitalFit’s Night Moisturizer, for example, contains healing ingredients to aid nighttime skin regeneration. Apply before going to bed or after you’ve showered at night.
5. Carefully Choose Fabrics
Anything that touches the skin can potentially irritate it, even a misplaced seam. Comfortable, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen work well in the summer. Wool and other wicking fabrics are a good choice in the winter. For exercise or outdoor activities, look for moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics that prevent chafing and irritation.
Be particularly mindful of your sock choices. The feet are a problem area for many people with diabetes. Sock seams can rub or cause blisters that easily become an entry point for infection. Opt for seamless socks with a little extra cushioning to protect the skin.
6. Consider a Humidifier
Dry climates suck the moisture from your skin. Consider investing in a humidifier for your home to help the condition of your skin. Ideally, indoor air should maintain a 30 to 50 percent humidity, so adjust the humidifier settings accordingly.
7. Or a Dehumidifier
Humid climates, on the other hand, can open the door for fungal infections, especially between the toes and in skin folds. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air and create a healthier environment for the skin when humidity levels consistently stay over 70 percent.
8. Discerning Shoe Choices
Cushy socks might be great, but if your shoes don’t fit, you could have rubbing and blister problems. Many people with diabetes buy wide-width shoes to give themselves extra wiggle room. However, know your foot type, and buy shoes that are snug without being tight or constricting.
Dry, itchy skin makes life uncomfortable. However, if left untreated, it could lead to serious problems for those with diabetes. Keep your skin clean and moisturized while keeping a close eye on potential problem areas like the feet and skin folds.