Skin Care and Diabetes

Skin Care and Diabetes

Why should I take care of my skin if I have diabetes?

Skin complications as a result of diabetes (both type 1 and 2) can affect between 30-90% of diabetic patients.1–5 According to one study, the most common skin complications as a result of diabetes were cutaneous infections (by fungus, bacteria, and viruses), xerosis (dry skin), and inflammatory skins diseases (usually causing redness and itchiness).5 Other skin disorders associated with diabetes include diabetic foot disease, rubeosis faciei (persistent reddening of the face), pigmented purpuric dermatitis (red to purple patches or spots), acnes, and tumors (both benign and malignant). These skin disorders, while usually not life-threatening, can greatly affect the patients’ quality of life.

Skin disorders are known to be highly associated with poor glycemic control.8 Elevated blood glucose levels can disturb the formation of keratin (a protective protein), impair the proper functioning of cells required for healthy skin, and create unnatural modifications to important proteins.9 Conversely, good glycemic control can reduce the incidences and severity of skin disorder.8

Most skin conditions can be sufficiently treated by primary care providers, though some cases may require referral to a dermatologist.6


How should I take care of my skin if I have diabetes?

It is important for individuals with diabetes to control their blood glucose levels and follow skin care guidelines. The American Diabetes Association gives some recommendations for good skin care for patients with diabetes.7

  • Avoid very hot showers
  • If you have dry skin, avoid bubble baths
  • Use mild shampoos
  • Avoid scratching dry or itchy skin
  • Moisturize your skin to prevent chapping
  • Treat cuts immediately
  • Keep your home humid during cold and dry months, and bathe less if possible, during this season
  • Avoid feminine hygiene sprays
  • Follow proper foot care routine
  • See a dermatologist for skin problems you are not able to solve yourself


1. Meurer M, Stumvoll M, Szeimies RM. [Skin changes in diabetes mellitus]. Hautarzt. 2004;55(5):428-435. doi:10.1007/s00105-004-0726-3
2. Shahzad M, Al Robaee A, Al Shobaili HA, Alzolibani AA, Al Marshood AA, Al Moteri B. Skin manifestations in diabetic patients attending a diabetic clinic in the Qassim region, Saudi Arabia. Med Princ Pract. 2011;20(2):137-141. doi:10.1159/000321219
3. Romano G, Moretti G, Di Benedetto A, et al. Skin lesions in diabetes mellitus: prevalence and clinical correlations. Diabetes  Res Clin Pract. 1998;39(2):101-106. doi:10.1016/s0168-8227(97)00119-8
4. Hosseini M, Ehsani A, Panah F, Azizi F. The Correlation between Skin Lesions, Microalbuminuria and other Microvascular Complications in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Nephro-Urol Mon. 2010;2(4):553-560.
5. Demirseren DD, Emre S, Akoglu G, et al. Relationship between skin diseases and extracutaneous complications of diabetes mellitus: clinical analysis of 750 patients. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2014;15(1):65-70. doi:10.1007/s40257-013-0048-2
6. Duff M, Demidova O, Blackburn S, Shubrook J. Cutaneous Manifestations of Diabetes Mellitus. Clin Diabetes. 2015;33(1):40-48. doi:10.2337/diaclin.33.1.40
7. Diabetes and Skin Complications | ADA. Accessed May 19, 2022.
8. de Macedo GMC, Nunes S, Barreto T. Skin disorders in diabetes mellitus: an epidemiology and physiopathology review. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 2016;8(1):63. doi:10.1186/s13098-016-0176-y
9. Gkogkolou P, Böhm M. Skin disorders in diabetes mellitus. JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft. 2014;12(10):847-864. doi:10.1111/ddg.12424



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