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Dry Skin: Diabetes and Your Skin


There are many things that can cause your skin to become dry, brittle and cracked. Only a portion of the things that cause dry skin are purely environmental, meaning that they are things outside of your body that you come into contact with on a daily basis. Other causes of dry skin are internal or medical in nature. These are the causes that are the most difficult to pinpoint and address.

Medical conditions that cause dry skin are numerous. Thyroid disease, Hodgkin's disease, eczema, and diabetes all contribute to bothersome skin conditions. Sometimes, your skin condition may not be directly caused by a medical condition but rather the treatment for that condition. This is especially true in cases of cancer where radiation and chemotherapy are used.

Diabetes and Dry Skin

Diabetes, dry skin and other skin conditions are closely linked. In fact, the first sign that a person has diabetes is usually some sort of skin disorder. It is estimated that more than 75 percent of diabetes patients will suffer from a skin condition. Skin conditions in patients with diabetes can be especially troublesome and difficult to treat. This is because the body's ability to renew and heal itself is stunted in persons with diabetes.

Dry skin is so common in people with diabetes because diabetics regularly experience high glucose levels. When glocose levels are high, the skin and surrounding tissues are zapped of vital moiture resulting in extremely dry legs, feet and elbows. The dehydrated, dry skin is then prone to cracking, peeling and infection which can be very difficult to reverse. In extreme situations, amputation is needed to help heal an infected wound.

Another cause of dry skin in diabetes patients is poor circulation. People with this disease often experience a loss of circulation and nerve sensation in their extremities. This can cause the sweat glands to slow or shut down. Without sweat to keep the skin moist, a futher drying of the skin can occur.

Dry skin can be cured in patients with diabetes. It just take a little more effort than in people who do not have an underlying medical condition contributing to their skin woes.

Follow these tips for keeping your skin hydrated in spite of diabetes:

Try to keep your glucose levels under control. Monitor your blood sugar regularly and follow a good diet.

Drink plenty of water.

If you notice any dry white patches on skin, discuss these with your doctor immediately before they become cracked.

Always use lotions and creams to hydrate your skin.

Decrease the amount of times that you bathe and use a gentle, hydrating soap when you do. Your water temperature should also be lukewarm, not hot.

Use a humidifer.

Other Diabetic Skin Conditions

In addition to dry skin, there are many other types of skin conditions that can affect people with diabetes. Here is just a brief overview of a few of the conditions that can exist on their own or in combination with dry skin.

Acanthosis nigricans - This skin condition is identified by the brown or black patches of skin that are normally associated with overweight people. These markings are normally seen on the neck, groin, or underarms and are caused by insulin receptors in the skin that cause the skin to grow abnormally.

Diabetic dermopathy - Is identified by small, round, raised lesions that may crack and open up. They are caused by changed in small blood vessels and poor circulation.

Bullosis diabeticorum - This condition is identified by small, ruptured blisters underneath the skin of a diabetic patient. The blisters are normally painless and heal on their own. They are caused by uncontrolled glucose levels.

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum - Is identified by dull, brown sores which may crack and peel. After some time, these sores become shiny and resemble scars. They are often indented. This condition is caused by changes in skin cells due to lack of circulation and is more common in Type 1 diabetes than Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic skin care does not have to be that difficult.

The key to combatting dry skin and other skin conditions cause by diabetes is to never let them get out of control. Take a few minutes each day to care for your skin. Be sure to use plenty of moisturizers and report any troublesome spots to your doctor. This will help keep your skin healthy and moist despite your medical condition. Most importantly, strive to keep your glucose levels under control. This is your best defense against skin conditions.

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