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Author: Gloria MacTaggert

According to The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), diabetes affects skin and feet in several ways:

1. If your blood glucose is high, your body loses fluid, hastening the dry skin process. Dry skin can become itchy and can crack, causing you to scratch. Breaks in the skin allow germs to enter and cause infection. If your blood glucose is elevated, it feeds germs and makes infections worse.

2. Nerve damage can decrease the amount you sweat. Decreased sweating can lead to dry skin. Additionally, Diabetics with nerve damage in the legs and feet, have difficulty feeling pain, heat, or cold in the extremities, a condition called diabetic neuropathy, that can lead to a large sore or infection.

3. Poor blood flow, another very serious condition of Diabetics also known as peripheral vascular disease, happens when not enough blood flows to your legs and feet, slowing the healing process to sores or
infections. Smoking when you have diabetes makes blood flow problems much worse.

These harsh diabetic conditions can create such havoc in the skin and feet. Using a quality shielding lotion will bond with the skin’s outer layer of skin, protecting it from losing moisture in the first place, and attracts moisture from the air to the skin through the use of special high-quality humectant moisturizers. Additionally, shielding lotions help to keep irritants away from the deeper layers of skin, and won’t wash off with soap or exposure to chemicals, allowing the skin to heal itself.

The following tips can help you stay on top of your skin care during the harsher winter months of managing diabetes:

• Keep your diabetes well managed. People with high glucose levels tend to have dry skin and less ability to fend off harmful bacteria. Both conditions increase the risk of infection.

• Keep skin clean and dry. Use talcum powder in areas where skin touches skin, such as armpits and groin.

• Avoid very hot baths and showers. If your skin is dry, don’t use bubble baths. Moisturizing soaps may help. Afterward, use a shielding lotion to help your skin retain moisture. But don’t put lotions between toes. The extra moisture there can encourage fungus to grow.

• Prevent dry skin. Scratching dry or itchy skin can open it up and allow infection to set in. Moisturize your skin with a shielding lotion to prevent chapping, especially in cold or windy weather.

• Treat cuts right away. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Do not use Mercurochrome antiseptic, alcohol, or iodine to clean skin because they are too harsh. Only use an antibiotic cream or ointment if your doctor says it’s okay. Cover minor cuts with sterile gauze. See a doctor right away if you get a major cut, burn, or infection.

• During cold, dry months keep your home more humid. Bathe less during this weather, if possible.

• Use mild shampoos. Do not use feminine hygiene sprays.

• See a dermatologist (skin doctor) about skin problems if you are not able to solve them yourself.

• Take good care of your feet. Check them every day for sores and cuts. Wear broad, flat shoes that fit well. Check your shoes for foreign objects before putting them on.

Author, Gloria MacTaggert, is a freelance writer who contributes articles on skin care for the National Skin Care Institute.