Diabetic skin – The causes and symptoms and how best to care for it

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If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes mellitus (or just Diabetes as it is more commonly known) there’s no need to worry – you can still lead a happy and fulfilling life. A few changes to your everyday habits can normally help you to live comfortably with Diabetes – a healthy diet and exercise can be especially beneficial.

Even your skin, your body’s largest organ, can be affected by Diabetes and benefits from a bit of extra care. Surveys have shown that four out of five Diabetics suffer from skin problems that can severely limit their overall wellbeing. Daily skin care, and foot care in particular, can play an important part in skin health and your overall quality of life.

Research from the International Diabetes Federation indicates that more than 415 million adults worldwide have Diabetes (that’s one in every eleven people). It also predicts that by 2040 that figure will rise to 642 million (one in every ten people).1 Of that total figure, about 90% are Type 2 Diabetics2.

Controlling blood glucose levels is routine for most people with Diabetes.

A healthy body naturally produces insulin which regulates the levels of glucose in our blood. Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disease whereby the body either does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells no longer react effectively to the insulin it produces.

The disease has far-reaching consequences for the whole body, including the skin. As the body tries to excrete the excess sugar via urine it loses water and skin dries out – the skin on legs and feet can be particularly effected. Symptoms tend to be worse in older people as our skin naturally dries out as we age anyway.

1. Epidermis, 2. Dermis, 3. Hypodermis

The role of the epidermis (the outermost layers of skin) is to protect the body from dehydration, disease and harmful substances. It is these layers of skin that are most affected by Type 2 Diabetes.

Underneath the epidermis lies the dermis. The dermal layers of skin are home to the blood vessels, nerves, sweat and sebaceous glands. If high blood glucose levels damage the dermis the skin is put under all sorts of additional stress besides the biological skin ageing and environmental irritants it is already subjected to.

Noticeably dry, itchy and tight skin can be a warning sign for Diabetes. Up to 40% of those affected suffer from it. It is caused by a disturbed nutrient supply to the skin which:

  • makes it harder for skin to retain the moisture it needs, so it dries out faster
  • interferes with the natural balance of sebum and sweat gland production
  • damages the hydrolipid film which coats the epidermis so it no longer provides reliable protection to the skin
  • reduces skin’s barrier function which can compromise the body’s immune system
  • increases the chance of skin suffering from cuts and wounds which may be susceptible to infection
  • can lead to nerve disorders (a condition known as neuropathy) which prevent the skin from feeling when it is being damaged

Skin and neuropathy
Skin can become brittle and cracked as a result. This not only feels uncomfortable, it also represents a health risk. Simple scratches can lead to minor injuries that don’t get the attention they need to help them heal. Skin condition deteriorates, and this can lead to physical and psychological problems. However, with proper care, you can prevent serious damage.

If you are diabetic it’s important to protect and care for your dry, rough and damaged skin with quality products that are proven to be suitable for people with Diabetes. All the products in the Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS range are clinically and dermatologically proven to be both highly effective on, and well tolerated by diabetic skin.3

Thorough, regular care can significantly improve skin condition. Skin looks and feels better and the risk of infection decreases.

For the body, and especially the legs, try Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS Lotion 5% Urea or Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS Lotion 10% Urea. The 5% Urea product has been specially formulated for very dry and rough skin. If your skin is extremely dry, itchy and flaky we recommend the higher concentration of Urea that comes with the 10% product.

Both products contain a unique and highly effective combination of active ingredients that work together to combat several of the main causes of dry skin.

The key actives in the formula are Urea, Ceramide and other Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs). The Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS Lotions deliver immediate relief and intense moisturisation, delaying symptoms of dryness for up to 48 hours.

You can find out more about the 10% Urea Lotion in Behind the science of Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS Lotion 10% Urea..

Step 1: Wash

Clean your feet with lukewarm water and mild soap

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Step 2: Examine

Dry your feet thoroughly and check for scratches, cracks and small wounds
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Step 3: Moisturise

Treat your feet with a suitable cream
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Appropriate care with a suitable foot cream keeps feet smooth and supple.

For foot care, we recommend Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS Foot Cream 10% Urea which has been developed in collaboration with Diabetologists (medical experts in Diabetes) and Dermatologists. The key ingredients of Urea, Ceramide and other Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs) are combined in an active formula that allows skin to breath and does not clog pores. It provides intense moisturisation for up to 48 hours, strengthens skin’s resilience, significantly reduces skin’s vulnerability to injury and improves overall condition.

A regular cleansing and moisturising routine will help to care for diabetic skin, and medical skincare products.

Such as those in the Eucerin UreaRepair range – can be used daily to relieve the symptoms of dry, diabetic skin, improve skin resilience and leave it looking and feeling soft, smooth and supple.

1 IDF Diabetes Atlas (7th ed.): a global report published by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Brussels, Belgium (2015)
2 International Diabetes Federation. The IDF Diabetes Atlas. Fifth Edition. Brussels (2011)
3 Source: Deutscher Gesundheitsbericht Diabetes 2016, published by: Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe and the German Diabetes Society (DDG)

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