Why Does Diabetes Cause Dry Skin? | 11 Tips for Healthy Skin

Dry skin a condition of the skin that isn’t painful and is harmless, but Why Does Diabetes Cause Dry Skin? Having dry skin can signal that your blood sugar levels are high and can mean several things. It’s recognized by itching, scaling, and cracking of the skin. Let’s talk more about this condition.

What does Diabetes have to do with Dry Skin?

Hands With Dry Skin
Hands With Dry Skin

Some people just have naturally dry skin, but dry skin can develop from oily skin. Dry skin can happen on any part of your body. Continue reading to the end to learn all about diabetes and dry skin conditions.

It could be an indicator that you are pre-diabetic, you have diabetes and haven’t been diagnosed with it by your doctor, or the treatment that you are currently on needs to be modified. Either way an appointment with your doctor may be necessary.

If you haven’t been tested for diabetes then you most certainly want to have this done so that you at least know and can start doing something about it.

Causes of Skin Problems Related to Diabetes

Having type 2 diabetes for an extended period of time can do damage to your body and decrease the blood circulation to your skin. The changing of your skin and it’s appearance, texture and its ability to heal are results of damage to your nerves and your blood vessels from poor blood circulation which alters your skin’s collagen.

This becomes obvious and noticeable. Remember, your skin is your largest organ and the only one you or anyone can actually see.

Since approximately 33% of people with diabetes can experience some sort of skin condition related to diabetes. There are also some diabetes medications for lowering your blood sugar that can actually raise your chances of developing some kind of skin issues based on diabetes. So here are some of the skin conditions caused by diabetes:

* Fungal infections- These are very common for diabetics and caused by the spread of yeast or fungus. They will appear as areas of swollen, and itchy and red skin that are encircled by dry scales or blistering. Fungus flourishes where you skin folds and contains warmth such as under the armpits, in the groin area and under the breasts.

Fungal infections such as jock itch and athlete’s foot can be extremely itchy and can spread and get much worse. It’s crucial to get prescription medication to treat before it does worsen. Don’t wait!

* Diabetic blisters- Some folks with type 2 diabetes having nerve damage can experience blisters that may resemble burns. These are generally rare and aren’t painful but will heal in a couple of weeks or so. These types of blisters happen only if your blood sugar levels are not under control, so do your best to make sure those numbers are controlled.

* Bacterial infections-  Most people are familiar with and experience bacterial infections. But for diabetics it is much more of an issue because these conditions are redness and swelling accompanied by a warm touch being painful and happens more often if your blood sugar levels are consistently high. Antibiotics can help so keep your doctor informed.

* Shin spots- These round scaly patches of skin of a light brown color often appear on the shins. The patches result in the small blood vessels that supply the tissues with oxygen and nutrition becoming damaged. This issue will not require any treatment because it is harmless. If you’ve got your blood sugar under control it still may not go away.

* Digital sclerosis-  This particular skin condition will cause the skin on your toes, fingers, and hands to become tight and thick and possibly stiffen your joints. You have a much higher chance of developing this skin condition if your glucose is too high. The best defense against this is to  have your blood sugar numbers under control. There are also some moisturizers and lotions available that can help in treating or preventing this condition.

* Skin coloration- Discoloration of the skin is known as vitiligo. It is a condition where the skin cells that make the pigment are damaged and destroyed. There is no particular treatment for this condition so the best thing you can do to try and prevent it is to use sunscreen. Protection from the sun is always advisable when it comes to your skin.


Treatments for Dry Skin

Prescription Medications
Prescription Medications

* Prescription medications- You want to stay on top of this with your physician and/or your dermatologist. Certain skin conditions can be serious enough to require prescription medications.

These can include antifungal medications, antibiotics either oral or topical to treat skin issues and even insulin therapy which can help to control the origin of a specific skin condition. Your healthcare individual will guide you as which course to take.

* Over the counter meds- There are some over the counter treatments for type 2 diabetics with skin disorders. You can use non-prescription antifungals, topical steroid meds and hydrocortisone. You can have the pharmacist assist you. They are very experienced and knowledgeable in this area.

* Home or other remedies- Sometimes you either don’t need or don’t want prescription medications and there are some great choices for type 2 diabetes conditions. One thing that you can use is talcum powder but I prefer Gold Bond powder because it works very well.

Powder is good because it is great for where skin touches skin, such as behind the knees, the groin area, armpit, and under the breast. Lotion can reduce the itching and help to soothe dry skin.

* Altering your lifestyle- Now some things you can’t change in life that you are just born with. But for the most part you can make many changes in your lifestyle that can make a huge difference. Eating healthy and exercising are always at the top of the list and have a tremendous impact on your diabetes and in turn your dry skin as well.

So it’s important to prevent dry skin first rather than have to treat it. Everyone is different so you may choose to do one task and not another. You want to avoid scratching dry skin because that can lead to more problems with infections. A hot shower or hot bath can dry your skin out. If you can, try and adjust your home to where it’s more on the humid side in the dryer months.

Keeping your Skin Healthy when You have Diabetes

These are all important things to do to prevent skin problems when you’re a type 2 diabetic:

Contour Next Diabetes Testing Kit
Contour Next Diabetes Testing Kit

1) Blood Sugar Numbers

This is the most important part of not only having healthy skin with diabetes but for your overall health as well. If your blood glucose is out of control, then you will not only have other health issues but there’s more of a likelihood that you will suffer from dry skin as well. Test yourself regularly!

2) Diabetic Nerve Damage

If you have nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) which is a result of elevated glucose numbers, then it’s especially important to be on the lookout for dry skin. If you have diabetic nerve damage and aren’t aware of it, you could have dry skin that gets cracked and this raises the possibilities of infection.

With nerve damage from diabetes and dry skin, you should be checking your lower body every day to be absolutely sure that you don’t have any tears or cracks in your skin that you weren’t aware of because of numbness due to neuropathy. I have numbness in my feet and I check every day without fail!

3) Keeping the Skin Covered

As a diabetic with a dry skin condition it’s a necessity to try and cover those spots and areas so that the skin doesn’t have the chance to just tear off. Dress accordingly with socks, long pants, and shoes that fit properly whenever you are outside the house because that’s where there’s more of a chance of a tear in your skin or cut to open up. Keep your skin covered as best you can.

4) No Scratching

I remember my mom always telling me not to scratch that! Sound familiar? Well she was obviously right because Moms are always right! So you don’t want to open up the dry skin and allow infections to take over. You can use moisturizer anywhere to help even the driest parts of your skin such as the legs, arms, feet, and hands.

Peeling Skin on the Feet
Peeling Skin on the Feet

5) Your Feet

It is crucial to check your feet each and everyday. You want to make sure that you don’t have any cuts and sores because with diabetes, neuropathy can cause a loss of feeling in your feet and you might incur an injury and not even be aware of it.

So be as thorough as possible when examining your feet and don’t rush. Keep tabs with your doctor especially with any changes as far as calluses, ulcers, cracked skin, dry skin, or blisters. It’s a good idea to see a podiatrist regularly as well.

6) Hydration

Using moisturizer is very beneficial but it’s even more important that you are constantly hydrated. This can help to avoid any skin problems related to diabetes. I found that a good idea was to get a good water bottle and have it with me so that I always have water on hand wherever I go.

7) Cold Weather

It’s common for folks with and without diabetes to experience dry skin when cold weather arrives. It’s a good idea to invest in a room humidifier for the cold winter months to keep the proper amount of moisture in the room. This will help to keep your skin from drying out.

8) Hand Sanitizer

I use hand sanitizer all the time. The problem is that it dries your hands out big time especially in the winter. It’s important to use moisturizer to keep your hands hydrated and smooth.

9) Testing Your Sugar Instructions

If you want to try and avoid calluses when you test your blood glucose, then you may want to avoid testing in the same finger constantly and to also use the side of your finger instead of the center. The side is less sensitive too when you go to stick it.

So switch up all the time with where you test. Make sure you are using a new lancet that is sharp and isn’t dull when you test because that can increase your risk of callused fingers as well.

10) Too Much Sun

Excess sun exposure is bad enough for possible skin cancer problems, but the sun can dry your skin out and especially with having type 2 diabetes. You want to protect yourself with sunglasses and sunblock and a hat. I always wear a hat when it’s necessary especially if you are losing your hair.

11) Hot Water

Okay, I don’t mean that YOU are in hot water! LOL But you could be if you are constantly exposing yourself to hot water. Warm showers and baths are required here to avoid drying your skin out. Also don’t forget to use only mild shampoos.

In Conclusion

Why Does Diabetes Cause Dry Skin? As I said in the beginning, your skin is your largest organ of your body and the only one exposed to the outside and the elements. It’s hard enough to keep it healthy and without incident but even harder when you have type 2 diabetes. Having high blood sugar numbers only contribute more to a problem of diabetes and dry skin.



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Home » Comfort » Why Does Diabetes Cause Dry Skin? | 11 Tips for Healthy Skin

Rob Sciubba

Rob Sciubba - Founder of NaturalWaystoLowerBloodSugar.com

Rob is an blogger who has type 2 diabetes and wants to spread the word treating diabetes. For the past 3 years he has provided valuable information about diabetes and lowering blood sugars and continues to offer additional ways to treat diabetes.

If you’re serious about treating your diabetes and lowering your blood sugars the natural ways, then you will learn from his website.

8 thoughts on “Why Does Diabetes Cause Dry Skin? | 11 Tips for Healthy Skin”

  1. Dry skin runs in my family, especially in the colder months. I have tried many lotions, but the one that seems to work the best is O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream.

    I didn’t know diabetics could have so many skin issues. It makes sense. I have decided it is time to switch my diet so I don’t develop diabetes. My brother and sister both have type one diabetes and I am borderline diabetic and want to make sure I do what I can to prevent it so that I don’t develop all of these problems.

    • Hey Michael,

      Dry skin is especially harder on our skin in the colder months.

      Your recommendation of the working hands cream might be something to look into.

      Dry skin and fungal issues can be prevented and treated.

      Having siblings with type 1 diabetes is something that would want someone such as yourself to do whatever possible to try and prevent diabetes.

      Good luck and thank you for commenting!

  2. I’ve got several friends with diabetes, one friend has done very well keeping it at bay through healthy eating. Fungal problems are big with diabetics, but are actually a widespread problem even if you don’t have diabetes. I’m not so sure fungal is related, though it may appear that way, because as I said too many none diabetics have fungal issues. Some of my diabetic friends don’t have fungal problems, yet I know more people with fungal problems that don’t have diabetes. I believe the widespread fungal problem is due to our immune systems being low, and the root cause of this is our current farming methods and how toxic our food is today.

    • Hey Sharon,

      Yes fungal problems are common with having diabetes. Healthy eating is always the best solution for dry skin and fungal issues when it comes to diabetes.

      People also have fungal issues even without diabetes but it’s important to know that if dry skin is a result of diabetes, then how it can be treated promptly.

      Controlling our blood sugars
      is crucial with diabetes because that will help keep dry skin conditions in check as well.

  3. Both my parents have diabetes. My nurse once checked my sugar level and she said I’m good. Once I said that my parents have diabetes, she said most probably I will get diabetes one day, although my sugar level is good now. I have my own skin problem, and after I read your site, I was just thinking does my skin problem related to my diabetes gene?

    • If both your parents have diabetes then there is a chance it could be in your genes and that you could wind up with diabetes as well.

      It’s always good to follow a healthy diet and exercise and keep a check on your blood sugars and visit your doctor.

      As far as your skin goes, it may or may not be related to a diabetes gene. I’m not a medical professional but what I would do is have your doctor or dermatologist check it out.

      Thank you for your comments!


  4. I had no idea that I had type II diabetes. I was diagnosed at age 50, after complaining to my doctor about being very tired. There is no family history of this disease. I’m a male and at the time of diagnosis, I weighed about 215. (I’m 6’2″)Within 6 months, I had gained 30 to 35 pounds, and apparently the diabetes medicines (Actos and Glimiperide) are known to cause weight gain. I wish my doctor had mentioned that, so I could have monitored my weight more closely. I was also taking metformin 1000 mg twice daily December 2017 our family doctor started me on Green House Herbal Clinic Diabetes Disease Herbal mixture, 5 weeks into treatment I improved dramatically. At the end of the full treatment course, the disease is totally under control. No case blurred vision, frequent urination, or weakness
    Visit Green House Herbal Clinic official website www. greenhouseherbalclinic .com. I am strong again and able to go about daily activities.‌ This is a breakthrough for all diabetes sufferers

    • Yes as I said in your response to another article on my website about acid reflux, it is a shock when you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you had no idea that you had it.
      Dry skin also can be connected to diabetes and you might not know it either.
      Getting on top of the diagnosis right away and getting treatment was a wise choice. This could have been a second symptom that you had in addition to acid reflux.
      I’m glad that after five weeks you’ve got it under control. You really should be feeling good now!


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