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Diabetes And Your Skin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What do I need to know about diabetes and my skin?

Diabetes can affect every part of your body, including your skin. Diabetes that is not well controlled can damage blood vessels and nerves. Damage to blood vessels can make it hard for blood to flow to tissues and organs. A lack of blood flow to your skin can cause ulcers that are difficult to heal. Skin ulcers are also called sores. People with diabetes can also have more bacterial skin infections than other people. Most skin conditions can be prevented with good blood sugar control. Skin sores can be hard to heal, or become life or limb threatening, if not treated early.

What are common skin changes that I may see?

Skin changes in diabetes are common and usually will not need treatment:

  • A smooth, dark thickness in the skin on your neck, groin, face and underarms
  • Skin tags on your eyelids, neck, or underarms
  • Yellow color of your palms, soles of your feet, and nails
  • Dark patches on your shins
  • A constant redness of your face and neck
  • Thick skin on the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet

How can I prevent skin sores?

  • Keep your blood sugar within target range. Your healthcare provider will tell you what your blood sugar levels should be. High blood sugars increase your risk for skin infections and poor wound healing. .
  • Keep your skin clean. Do not take hot baths or showers. They can cause your skin to dry out. Do not take a bubble bath if you have dry skin. Use moisturizing soaps and lotion after baths or showers. Do not put lotion between your toes.
  • Keep skin from becoming too dry, especially in cold, dry weather. When you scratch dry, itchy skin, you can cause your skin to be open to infection. Bathe less during cold weather and use lotion to moisturize. Use a humidifier to keep air in your home from being dry.
  • Keep areas dry where skin touches skin. Use talcum powder in areas such as armpits and groin. You may also need it under your breasts, and between your toes. Moisture in these areas can cause a fungal infection.
  • Check your feet daily for sores and cuts. Ask someone to look at parts of your feet that you cannot see, or use a handheld mirror.
  • Prevent sores on your feet. Wear shoes that fit well. Check your shoes for objects inside before you put them on. Put on shoes before you walk outside. Wear slippers or socks when you are inside. Do not put your feet in very hot water. Do not fall asleep with heating pads on your legs or feet. Cover your feet in cold weather.
  • Treat cuts immediately. Clean minor cuts with soap and water. Cover them with sterile gauze.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You get a severe burn or cut.
  • You have a sore that is red around it, is painful, and warm to touch.
  • Your sore does not get better or seems to get worse.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your blood sugar levels continue to be higher than they should be.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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