During the chilly winter weather, there are several reasons why your skin can become dry and itchy. From lowered humidity outdoors to heaters in the home, the air becomes dry and so can your skin. People with diabetes need to maintain proper winter skin care to avoid cracking, bleeding and other possible complications.

Cold Air

When the air gets cold in the winter, the humidity drops. Heaters also make the air dry. Skin loses water through evaporation. When your skin becomes very dry, it can crack on your feet and fingers as well as other parts of your body such as elbows and knees. If your skin gets itchy and swollen, you could develop dermatitis. When you scratch, it could lead to bleeding and an infection. People who are prone to swelling in the legs may experience extreme dermatitis in this area because the skin is stretched. It is important to reduce dryness to help ward off skin problems in the winter.

Hot Baths

A long, hot bath feels great but could make your skin drier in the winter. Taking lengthy hot baths or showers can strip away the natural oils in your skin. Typically, you should not remain in the water for more than 10 minutes. When your fingers look wrinkled, you have been in the bath or shower long enough. Use a mild, moisturizing soap to get clean and rinse it off thoroughly.

Pat Dry Skin Instead of Rubbing

Pat your skin dry gently with a cotton towel after the bath or shower. Make sure the area between your toes is dry. Allow the rest of your skin to remain slightly moist then apply an oil-based moisturizer. Ointments and creams are more effective than lotions. They also help prevent the water from evaporating to keep your skin moist. Diachieve Skin Cream is an excellent choice for winter.

Avoid Irritating Soaps and Water

Protect your hands and skin from irritating soaps and water. When you clean the house or wash dishes, wear vinyl gloves. Choose mild cleansers and soaps. After cleaning, apply moisturizer to keep your hands soft and healthy. Extremities are prone to dryness in the winter. Check your feet each day for cuts, sores and dryness.

Use Sunscreen!

We usually remember to apply sunscreen in the summer but still need to wear it in the winter. If you take walks outdoors or go skiing, your skin must be protected from the wind and sun. Use a moisturizer with sunscreen on your face. Apply a lip balm with sunscreen to avoid getting chapped lips. Choose products with an SPF of 15 or higher, especially if you will be outdoors for over 20 minutes. Keep in mind the snow can reflect over 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Invest in a Humidifier

If you use a heater at home or work, invest in a humidifier. This will help keep the humidity in your home or office during the chilly winter weather. In the summer heat, we often have a water bottle to remain hydrated. Continue to drink plenty of water through the winter to stay hydrated from the inside out.

Keep Warm

Remember to keep your body warm in the winter. Getting cold can aggravate circulation problems. Wear gloves, diabetic socks and layers in the cold. If you get overheated, you can remove one of the layers. Try to keep your fingers warm as it is difficult to test your blood sugar with cold hands. If your fingers are cold, run them under warm water for a quick fix. Stay away from alcohol swaps which dry out the skin. Wash your hands with gentle soap and water prior to testing.

If your skin is dry and bleeding, you may get an infection. People with diabetes are often more prone to getting serious infections. Contact your physician if you develop any open wounds. Contact your doctor immediately if your skin looks infected or causes you discomfort.

The winter is a fun season filled with holidays, sledding and snow. Remember to stay warm and keep your skin moisturized. A few simple steps can help you ward off dry skin and avoid infections throughout the winter.

ADW Diabetes

ADW Diabetes is a diabetic supply mail order company that is dedicated to keeping diabetes management affordable. ADW takes a leading role in offering free diabetic education through Destination Diabetes, an informational component of the ADW website featuring tips and advice from diabetes and nutrition experts, diabetic recipes and more.