Dryness of the skin is common in diabetics. If left untreated it increases risk of skin damage. As skin is the largest organ of our body that is constantly exposed to corrosive environmental elements, maintaining the health of the skin is essential for reducing the risk of skin infections and other complications induced by elevated glucose level in the blood. Hence, daily skin care is considered an important part of diabetes care.
How Diabetes Causes Dry Skin
Sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands in the hair follicles forms a natural lubricant coating on the skin. It forms a natural barrier against weather elements and prevents moisture present beneath the skin from escaping into the atmosphere, thereby keeping the skin soft, supple and hydrated. The activities of the sebum producing glands are controlled by the nervous system.
People with diabetes experience skin dryness when the nerves that regulate activities of the sebaceous glands become damaged. Damage to the small blood vessels that supply nourishment to the skin cells is also associated with skin dryness. Excessive skin dryness is usually a sign of untreated or advanced diabetes. Although low humidity and aging contribute to skin dryness, diabetes further worsens the skin problem.
Complications Of Dry Skin In Diabetes
Dry skin is a bothersome problem. It causes itching and makes the skin rough. Persistent itching causes scratching and breaks in the skin. Microorganisms enter the deeper layers of the skin through the breaks in the skin, leading to bacterial or fungal infections of the skin.
The weakened immune system in people with diabetes reduces the natural ability of the body to fight infections, thereby worsening skin discomfort. Dry skin is also vulnerable to sunburn following exposure to sunlight even for a short time.
Treatment Of Diabetes And Dry Skin
Lubricating the skin with a moisturizing agent helps in treating dry skin. You will need a facial moisturizer for facial skin care and a body moisturizer for hydrating the entire body. The best time to apply moisturizer is after taking a shower. As the skin remains moist after bath, it can easily absorb the moisturizer. Hence, your skin will remain moist for a longer time.
Ointment moisturizers offer the best protection from skin dryness. However, due to their greasy consistency, a number of people tend to avoid petroleum jelly and other ointment moisturizers. The less greasy mineral oil, bath oil and vegetable oil are effective alternatives to ointment moisturizers.
Dietary Treatment For Diabetes And Dry Skin
A healthy diet helps in providing appropriate nourishment to the skin, helping the skin to maintain its health and function. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for diabetics with dry skin. These healthy fats are present in fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnut and soybean.
Prevention Of Diabetes And Dry Skin
Keeping blood sugar level under control and taking regular care of the skin help in preventing skin dryness. Wash your body with lukewarm water and mild soap. Gently pat the skin dry and then apply appropriate moisturizer to trap the skin moisture. To prevent skin infection, protect any crack, scratch or break in the skin by covering it up. Do not ignore any skin problem and seek professional help as soon as possible.