9 Ways to Prevent Diabetic Dry Skin

Try these helpful tips to keep your skin healthy, moisturized and free of painful infections.

Woman putting lotion on feet and legs

Updated on July 10, 2023.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep your skin healthy, moisturized, and clean to avoid infections. Winter can pose some additional challenges to your efforts, however, due to the effects of cold air. In cold weather, it’s common to have itchy, dry skin, which can lead to cracks and cuts. These can get severe enough to cause bacterial and fungal infections if left untreated. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to keep your skin healthy all winter long.

Keep your skin moisturized

Use cream, lotion, or ointment on your hands, face, and body often, especially when you feel itchy. Pay close attention to your hands, since frequent washing and use of hand sanitizer can dry them out. It can help to carry hand moisturizer and lip balm with you whenever you leave home.

Use gentle skin and haircare products

Lotions, soaps, and shampoos made with fragrance or dyes may irritate your skin. To avoid this, look for products labeled as fragrance-free or for use on sensitive skin. If you are unsure of what to use, ask your healthcare provider (HCP).

Limit very hot showers

As good as a scalding shower might feel on a cold winter day, you run the risk of drying your skin out. To prevent this, stick to showers that are warm rather than hot, avoid staying in them too long, and limit yourself to one per day. It also helps to use moisturizing soaps and apply cream or ointment when finished.                          

Cover your skin

Hats, gloves, scarves, and coats are essential to keeping your skin protected during chilly temperatures. Gloves are especially important, as hands are often the first places to be affected by dry skin. Gloves can also protect your hands from drying out from exposure to water, greases, and cleaning chemicals.

Wear well-fitting shoes and socks

Heavy winter boots and ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters on your feet. Make sure your shoes are comfortable before wearing them for an extended time. Check your feet for cuts, sores, and blisters every day, and treat any blisters you do get right away so that they don’t get infected. Always keep your socks clean and dry.

Keep a humidifier on

Humidifiers can keep moisture in the air, preventing your skin from drying out. If you have one running, it will help keep the air in your home at a comfortable level of humidity.

Stay hydrated

It’s easy to forget to drink water when the temperature drops. Being dehydrated can cause a lot of health problems, including making it harder for your skin to hold on to its natural moisture. Ample hydration can help your skin stay moisturized.

Take care of any skin issues

If you do develop any blisters, rashes, or itchy skin, treat them right away. Wash small wounds with soap and water and cover them with sterile gauze until they heal. Contact your HCP or a dermatologist if you have more severe skin issues, like eczema or psoriasis, or if wounds are slow to heal.

Control your blood sugar

This is one of the best ways to prevent dry skin, as well as keep your entire body healthy. Follow your diabetes treatment plan. If you’re having trouble with blood sugar control, speak to your HCP.

Article sources open article sources

American Academy of Dermatology Association. Dermatologist’s Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin. Page last reviewed 2023.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and Your Skin. Page last reviewed June 14, 2022. 
American Diabetes Association. Diabetes and Skin Complications. Page last reviewed 2023. 
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Dry Skin Relief from COVID-19 Handwashing. Page last reviewed 2023.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 Reasons Your Scalp Itches and How to Get Relief. Page last reviewed 2023.
MedlinePlus. Dehydration. Page last reviewed May 29, 2019.

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