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Many of us know that summer can be a difficult time to manage diabetes, but unfortunately, winter comes with its own set of challenges, starting with dry skin.
There are many reasons for the increased prevalence of dry and itchy skin around winter that dermatologists call Winter Skin. There is less humidity in the air, people dry themselves more vigorously and roughly, hair dryers and heaters are used to avoid catching a cold, all of whichn overly dries out your skin.
But its doesn't have to be dry or uncomfortable. Below you’ll find some great simple tips to help you keep your skin healthy this winter.
Yes, you read that right- take fewer showers/baths. In these chilly winter months, it can feel so good to have excessively frequent, long, and hot showers or baths. Unfortunately, this is terrible for helping keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
The hot water strips the oils from your skin. These oils are integral for keeping your skin hydrated and the more you bathe, and the hotter the water is, the more of these essential oils you wash away.
So, when you shower or bath, be mindful of keeping it a short as possible and try to avoid making the water too hot. This doesn’t just apply to your body, but your hands as well. Before you wash your hands just ask yourself if you need too. This can be especially difficult for those of us lancing or testing blood sugars regularly.
When you step out of a nice shower or bath you’ll want to immediately scrub yourself dry. If your bathroom also has a heater or hot-lights, you may also be tempted to crank those up as well. To help your skin, try to avoid doing all of the above.
When you use a heater, heat lamps, or hair dryer, you indirectly help to dry out your skin by evaporating the moisture out of the air. It also has the direct impact of drying your skin.
First, try to keep your bathroom at a comfortable, not overly hot, temperature and try to stay out of direct contact/line of a heater.
Second, when you do dry yourself try to blot-dry. That is, dab your body gently with a soft towel rather than scrubbing your skin with it. This will reduce the amount of essential moisture that you remove from your skin.
Third, moisturise. Find a body moisturiser that works for you- make sure it is unscented and use liberally. And when you moisture pay close attention to your feet. Not only are they more susceptible to skin dryness, and cracking, but because the skin on the feet is thicker and more prone to build-up, a foot-specific lotion is best.
Because winter is the season of dry skin it is more important than ever to take care of your feet- where dry skin can have the most impact. We’ve said it before, but when 50% of diabetes-related amputations are avoidable it warrants saying again: you need take care of your feet!
Dry Skin becomes cracked skin, cracked skin is more easily infected and infections cause ulcers. Ulcers can eat their way centimetres into your skin and that’s not where it ends. Ulcers can cause blood infections and are notoriously hard to treat with antibiotics.
With a diagnosis of diabetes comes a 15-fold increase in the risk of lower limb amputation – toe, foot, or leg. Every year over 4,400 diabetes-related amputations are carried out in Australian hospitals.
In addition to applying a diabetic-specific foot cream, not over bathing and not over drying, you should also take care of your feet with the socks you wear.
The socks you wear can have a BIG impact on your feet. For instance, do they rub your skin uncomfortably? Do they stay wet or damp? Are the tops restrictive and do they cut in? All three of these factors can lead to small, but serious, open cuts or sores that are ripe for an infection. Ideally, you should choose socks that do none of the above, but socks can also actively help your feet
Our Services and Blog posts are NOT intended to substitute any professional medical advice or treatment and are offered for informational purposes only. Remember to always work with your doctor before changing anything about your medication or diabetes management. The above information is NOT medical advice.