Diabetic skin has reduced sweat and sebaceous gland activity, which leads to a disturbance of the hydrolipid film and thus to a lack of moisture retention in the skin. The skin dries out, becomes scaly, is rough and itches uncomfortably.
In diabetes mellitus, itching usually has two main causes: skin dryness due to the skin barrier disorder and diabetic neuropathy of the small skin nerves.
Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus is a risk for skin infections due to the impaired skin barrier and impaired immune defense. In the very first place, there is a risk of yeast infections; this is manifested, for example, by inflammation at the corners of the mouth or in areas of skin folds or at the edge of the nails.
Athlete’s foot is also more common in diabetics: bacteria can then in turn penetrate the skin via small cracks in the skin between the toes and cause erysipelas, which in the absence of treatment can lead to blood poisoning.
Higher blood sugar levels have a negative effect on the skin and other organs. Therefore, the main goal is the optimal adjustment of blood sugar, because this will also improve skin problems.
Diabetic skin needs regular care. This includes daily cleansing with mild, soap-free washing lotions that are especially suitable for dry and sensitive skin. These contain intensively refatting lipids or moisturizing ingredients such as urea, which prevent further dehydration. Care products for dry or sensitive skin should then be applied in sufficient quantity.
Diabetics should pay special attention to foot care. The moisture content of the sole of the foot is determined by foot perspiration. If this decreases or even stops altogether, the skin of the foot dries out, becomes brittle and cracked and thus offers an ideal target for bacteria. As a result of the elevated blood glucose level, diabetic skin already has a reduced body defense system, so that inflammation can quickly occur.
This is often aggravated by sensory disturbances in the feet (so-called diabetic peripheral polyneuropathy), which contribute to the fact that small wounds are not noticed as painful and are then entry points for pathogens.
In the treatment of diabetic feet, in addition to mild cleansing, thorough drying, especially of the spaces between the toes, intensive care should be given to all areas of the foot, especially the toes, the spaces between the toes and the heels. Creams containing light urea are ideally suited for this purpose. In the case of known diabetic nerve disorders, urea should not be used in higher concentrations than 10%.