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    How Diabetes Can Aggravate Common Skin Issues

    WebMD Feature

    When you have diabetes, take extra care of your skin, since it can be affected by the condition in unexpected ways. 

    Here's help for several issues, from itching and dryness to wrinkles.

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    Dry Skin

    If you have dry skin, diabetes can make it worse. That's because high blood sugar can make you have to pee often, which dehydrates you.

    Your skin can also get dry if the nerves, especially those in your legs and feet, don't get the message to keep skin soft and moist. That can happen due to damage to your nerves, also called diabetic neuropathy.

    Dry skin can become red and sore. Because it can be easily injured and have a harder time healing, use moisturizing lotion often.

    Dry weather or very hot or cold temperatures also parch your skin. Winter is especially risky for people with diabetes, says Fred Williams, MD, a clinical endocrinologist in Louisville, KY. “Humidity is lower, and your skin and heels can peel or crack,” he says.

    Germs can come in through the cracks of dry skin. An infection can spread quickly, he says.

    Minor Injuries and Infection

    Be watchful and proactive to protect your skin.

    "Check your body for small wounds every day, especially the bottoms of your feet where you may not feel or notice a cut or scrape,” Williams says.

    If your diabetes isn't well-controlled, treating wounds is even more important. “People who are not hitting their glucose [blood sugar] goals have poorer wound healing. They are at higher risk for skin infections,” he says.

    Bacteria like staph and fungi like yeast love high levels of blood sugar. High levels also make your immune cells that fight infection more sluggish. It’s harder for them to fend off infection than for people who have good control of their blood sugar.

    That's why you should carefully watch for and treat acne, razor burn, or other small scrapes, scratches, and cuts. Even minor ones might heal slowly. Diabetes causes poor blood flow and slower healing, which can turn a small cut into a dangerous infection risk.

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