Why does diabetes cause dry skin?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
It’s not so much that diabetes itself causes dry skin -- it’s the dehydration that results from poor blood sugar control. When your blood sugar level is high, that causes your body to lose fluid. In turn, that causes you to become dehydrated.

The solution, of course, is to keep your blood sugar in check -- which you want to do for many other reasons besides dry skin. So, control your diabetes, and you can control your dry skin!

[There are good tips here if you want to add more: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/skin-care.html]
Diabetes may dry your skin because having high sugar levels in your blood causes your body to lose fluid, including moisture from your skin. Also, nerve damage caused by diabetes may interfere with your ability to perspire normally, lessening the amount of moisture on your skin.

Dry skin can crack and become more prone to infection. To help keep your skin moist, avoid very hot showers and baths, use mild cleansers and apply moisturizer to your skin while it is still damp. Examine your skin daily, and if you notice any signs of infection, such as red or sore spots, see your doctor.
Dry skin is a complication of diabetes. It is caused by high blood glucose (high blood sugar) levels in the blood which zap moisture away from the tissues such as the skin. Another cause of dry skin for a diabetic is due to poor circulation. Poor circulation can cause the sweat glands to slow down or even shut down. Without sweat to cool the skin, the skin becomes dry.

Continue Learning about Diabetes Complications

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.