Skin Care Tips for Managing Diabetes

Skin Care Tips for Managing Diabetes

Medically Reviewed by Christopher Lowe, MD, FAAD

Skincare plays an important role in helping you manage diabetes. Individuals with high glucose levels typically have dry skin which makes it more likely to develop a skin infection. You can also experience a reaction to injecting insulin or taking diabetes medication.  Dermatologists can treat diabetic related skin issues which develop slow or non-healing wounds. Following these basic skin care tips will help you prevent serious, life-threatening conditions and feel more comfortable!

Moisturize Daily

Avoid scratching dry or itchy skin. This can open it up to infections. Instead, stay moisturized!

Moisturizing your skin every day can help make it flexible and prevent cracks which can lead to infection. Use fragrance-free cream or ointments containing ceramides which do a better job of healing dry skin than lotions.

Make sure you apply after bathing, swimming, and when your skin feels dry or itchy. Regularly apply moisturizer to your hands since they can become dry due to the need to wash hands before checking your glucose level. Always have your moisturizer on hand so you can apply as needed. 


Check Your Skin, Nails, and Feet Daily

Skin & Nails – Check your skin and nails daily for any changes. Keep your toenails short by cutting them straight across. If left long, they can lift, and an infection can develop. 

Feet – Make sure to check between your toes and the bottom of your feet for rashes, sores, and skin wearing away. If you have a callus or corn, make sure to get medical care before it cracks, opens, and develops into a serious infection.


Avoid Bathing in Hot Water & Dry Thoroughly

Avoid bathing with hot water which can leave skin feeling dryer, tight, and uncomfortable. Make sure you use a gentle cleanser or one formulated specifically for those with diabetes. Deodorant soaps and strong body washes can irritate your skin which is already sensitive. 

After bathing, make sure to gently dry areas where skin touches skin including between toes, armpits, behind the knees.


Self-Treating Skin Conditions

Follow the following steps when treating skin care conditions related to diabetes to prevent serious infection.

Dry, Cracked Heels

  1. Apply cream to dry, cracked heels daily until skin heels. 
  2. Make sure cream has 10-25% urea. 
  3. Wear broad, flat shoes and check them for objects before putting them on.

Blisters, Cuts, Scratches, and Wounds

  1. If you have a blister, do not try to break or pop it; the skin covering it protects it from infection. 
  2. Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  3. If recommended by your doctor, apply antibiotic ointment. 
  4. Cover the wound with a sterile adhesive bandage.
  5. Treat Daily
  6. Seek medical care immediately if wound fails to heal or worsens.


Get Medical Care When Needed

If you notice any of the following under your finger or toenails or on your skin make sure to get medical care immediately:

  • Swollen and discolored skin
  • Tenderness or pain
  • Wound with leaking pus or fluid.
  • Honey-colored crusts
  • Build-up under nail or nail is starting to lift.
  • Thickening or discolored nail


We understand managing diabetes is not easy—from monitoring your glucose level and sticking to a meal plan to finding time to exercise and managing stress—so start small by incorporating one skin care tip at a time! Good skin care is important, not just a luxury!

If your skin fails to heal or feels uncomfortable, call and set up an appointment with Dr. Lowe today to get your skin concerns taken care of!