People with diabetes are more prone to developing skin conditions than those who do not have diabetes. In some instances, doctors report the presence of skin disorders prior to diagnosing diabetes. Discover 4 common spring and summer skin conditions with diabetes and what you can do about them.
- Spring and summer conditions can lead to skin problems because of the excessive heat and harsh elements. Perspiring, summer activities and excessive sun exposure can wreak havoc on your skin. Shower daily with a gentle soap, soft cloth and tepid water. Avoid hot water or stringent soaps and never rub your skin. Dry off with a soft towel and apply moisturizer or body oil to your skin avoiding folds. Inspect your skin daily to look for irregularities. Report any issues to your doctor immediately.
- Proper foot care is important when you have diabetes. Clip your toenails straight across. Use an emory board to smooth rough edges. If you are unable to trim them yourself, visit a podiatrist. Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs cover this service when you have diabetes. Wash your feet daily with gentle soap and warm water. Dry them completely and apply foot cream, staying away from the areas between your toes. Look for irregularities such as chafing, blisters, hot spots and other problems. Always wear closed shoes that fit properly. Look inside your shoes before you put them on to remove rocks or other items that could irritate your feet. Have your feet measured to ensure you are wearing the right size shoes. Wear well fitting white socks to help with perspiration. Wear slippers at home and water shoes at the pool and beach. Avoid wearing flip-flops, sandals, and other open shoes.
- People with diabetes tend to suffer more bacterial infections than anyone else. Bacteria thrive in the warm, humid weather of spring and summer. Bacterial infections may include a sty, boils and carbuncles. A sty is an infection of the glands of the eyelids that causes swelling and discomfort. A boil is an infection of the hair follicles that becomes red, hot, swollen and painful. Carbuncles are a deep skin infection that goes into the underlying tissues. Infections and irritation may also occur around your nails. Avoid scratching or popping these swollen skin problems, which can make them worse or cause them to spread. Bacterial infections are often caused by staph, formally known as Staphylococcus. If you think you have a bacterial infection, consult with your doctor right away. Often they are treated with antibiotics in the form of a topical cream or a pill.
- The blood sugar highs and lows associated with diabetes can create a perfect environment for fungal infections to grow. The biggest culprit is a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans. It is responsible for many of the fungal infections people with diabetes get. This fungus causes itchy rashes on the skin that turn red with scales and blisters. Yeast infections may develop in the moist, warm folds of your skin. Common yeast infections include ringworm, athlete’s foot and jock itch. These skin infections must be treated by a doctor. Often medication is prescribed.
- Itchy skin is common for people with diabetes, especially during the spring and summer months. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF 30+ when you go outdoors. Minimize sun exposure to sensitive areas of your skin by wearing a hat, sunglasses and socks with shoes. If you swim in a pool with chlorine, take a shower and moisturize your skin afterwards to remove irritants and reduce the posibility of getting dry skin. Itching can be caused by dry skin, a yeast infection or poor blood flow. If it is caused by poor blood flow, itchy skin often appears on your legs. This can also be associated with diabetic neuropathy and should be promptly reported to your health care team. Skin lotions can help prevent itching and keep your skin soft and smooth. Ask your health care team to recommend skin care lotions that will work.
- Spring and summer are also a time to experience allergic reactions. Food, medications, insulin and diabetes pills can also cause allergic reactions as well as chlorine and insect bites. Talk to your doctor if you think you are having an allergic reaction. Your doctor may recommend using a certain type of spray to ward off bugs or encourage you to avoid certain foods or situations.
- Being proactive can help you ward off and relieve common skin care problems throughout the spring and summer. Apply powder to the folds of your skin to keep them dry. Choose unscented soaps and mild shampoos. Drink water to avoid dehydration that can lead to blood sugar irregularities and dry skin. Treat minor cuts and scrapes immediately with soap and water. Wear cotton underwear and clothing that allows air to circulate. If you have a stubborn skin condition, contact your doctor or dermatologist immediately.
The carefree days of spring and summer can also be a time when people with diabetes suffer with more skin conditions. Know the symptoms and report ongoing skin problems to your doctor right away. With proper care and treatment, you can have smooth and comfortable skin throughout the warmest months of the year.