Your Dermatologist

When he was a teenager, Robert never thought that dry skin would be a problem. But ever since he had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year, his skin was always dry and itchy. Even his feet cracked and peeled, and nothing seemed to help. His provider referred him to a dermatologist to find a solution to this common problem.

When blood glucose levels are high, the body produces extra urine to rid itself of excess blood glucose. This results in dehydration, which causes dry skin. Having diabetes also increases your risk of developing skin infections, especially if your glucose levels are often above normal. For instance, staphylococcal skin infections can cause itchy spots on buttocks, knees, and elbows. Your best weapon against dry skin is to keep your glucose within your target ranges through diet, exercise, and medication.

Should a skin infection or other skin problem develop, see a dermatologist right away, when treatment is most effective. Dermatologists are medical doctors with special training in skin disorders. Your diabetes care provider or local ADA office can provide a referral for a dermatologist, if needed.

Keep your skin clean. If you have dry skin, use a superfatted soap such as Dove, Basis, Keri, or Oilatum.

Dry off well after washing. Be sure to prevent moisture in the folds of the skin, such as the groin area, between the toes, under the breasts, and in armpits where fungal infections are more likely. Try using talcum powder in these moist areas. Avoid very hot baths and showers if you have loss of sensation, because you can easily burn yourself without knowing it. Prevent dry skin. When you scratch dry, itchy skin, you can break the skin and open the door to bacteria. After you dry off from a shower, you may need an oil-in-water skin cream such as Lubriderm or Alpha-Keri. On cold and windy days, you may need to moisturize often to prevent chapping. Drink lots of water, unless your provider advises otherwise. Treat cuts quickly. For minor cuts, clean the area with soap, water, and hydrogen peroxide. Do not use antiseptics such as Mercurochrome, alcohol, or iodine because they irritate the skin. Only use antibiotic creams and ointments for a few days without consulting your provider. Call your provider if you find any of the following: o redness, swelling, pus, or pain that might indicate a bacterial infection o jock itch, athlete's foot, ringworm, vaginal itching, or other signs of a fungal infection o blisters or bumps anywhere, especially on the backs of your fingers, hands, toes, arms, legs, or buttocks—these are signs of high glucose levels o rashes, bumps, or pits near insulin injection sites

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