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Diabetes and Winter Weather Can Spell Trouble for Skin

Diabetes-related changes in circulation can contribute to the breakdown of collagen (the protein that gives structure and firmness to skin), which may lead to skin dryness, itching, infections, and other problems. Combine this with winter’s cold temperatures and dry air and your skin may become even more vulnerable, particularly to infections. With a little care, though, you can keep your glow this winter. Try these tips for good skin care from the American Diabetes Association:

  • Moisturize the dry areas. Moisturizer helps fill in gaps and cracks in the skin, temporarily restores elasticity, and can help protect you from infections. Use a moisturizer wherever your skin is dry; don’t use moisturizer in damp areas, such as between your toes and inner thighs, or under your arms.
  • Dry the moist areas. Having diabetes puts you at a higher than average risk for fungal skin infections, especially in chronically moist areas. Use a powder, such as talcum powder, in places where skin touches skin, such as between your toes, under your arms, and between your upper thighs.
  • Wash wisely. Too much time spent in hot water can strip the oil from your skin, so be mindful of your time in the shower. Take short showers using warm—not hot—water. Use a mild soap-free cleanser or a moisturizing body wash, and apply moisturizer to dry areas soon after toweling off.
  • Use sunscreen. Remember, the winter sun can give you a sunburn. So, use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above, and apply at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun—reapply as the package directs.
  • Treat minor cuts and scrapes. Pay attention to all minor skin injuries and irritations. Wash cuts and scratches right away, and see your doctor if you develop wounds that won’t heal or irritations that appear to be worsening. Remember that the feet are particularly vulnerable in people with diabetes. Always wear comfortable shoes and socks, and check your feet regularly for signs of problems, such as red spots, blisters, or sore areas.
  • Manage blood sugar levels. Keep your diabetes well managed. People with high glucose levels tend to have dry skin and less ability to fend off harmful bacteria. If you have skin issues, your blood sugar may not be optimally controlled. Talk to your doctor about all of the options for diabetes management, including regular physical activity, a healthy diet, medications, stress management, and insulin.

Source: American Diabetes Association

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