Winter Skincare for Diabetes

As the weather gets colder (well, in Illinois, it might go up and down even in fall and winter), the air is drier and our skin tends to feel it. This November for American Diabetes Month, let us befriend the challenges that come with living with diabetes, including skin care.

Leading up to Dryness

In those with diabetes who may have nerve damage, nerves may not appropriately signal the body to sweat or produce as much moisture as needed. Over time this can lead to dry skin.

For those with diabetes, during times of high blood glucose (a.k.a. sugar), the body may urinate to help reduce excess glucose. This can lead to dry skin, since water is needed to produce urine and then removed from the body.

Tips to Help Limit Dry Skin

  • Keep or bring your blood glucose into healthy ranges. Whatever your target numbers for your blood glucose, keeping them in range is a great way to maintain your health and limit dry skin. If you are testing daily, rotating where the stick site is can help reduce calluses. Allowing the lancet to go low enough to draw just enough blood is good; no need to go deeper. If needed, reduce the depth of the lancing device.
  • Keep your skin from extremes. In winter this can be tricky, but try things like taking cooler showers, use gloves when washing dishes, keep humidity in your home consistent (a humidifier may help), etc.
  • Moisturize all around. From lip balm to hand and body lotion, moisturize as needed. Unscented products are recommended, since they can give false reads on your blood glucose monitor. Remember to hydrate with water and water-rich foods, like broth-based soups, apples, leafy vegetables, etc.
  • Check daily, care daily. Check skin and feet daily for cuts or irritations in skin. If you find any, give them care by keeping them clean, dry, and covered with bandages.

The American Diabetes Association describes other skin conditions those with diabetes may experience. For more on each, visit their Skin Complications page.

If you continue to have trouble caring for your skin, talk with your doctor and see a dermatologist (a doctor trained in skincare).

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