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Diabetic Skin Conditions: Three Signs to Look for During a Check

March 17, 2020 | in Complications, New Diagnosis

Editorial Review Phoebe Stoye, A.B. in Neurobiology, Harvard College
Clinical Review Nicholas Yozamp, MD, Washington University in St. Louis
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Do you ever pause when your doctor asks if you are completing your diabetic skin checks? You may be thinking, "I think I am, but what signs am I really supposed to be looking for?" Let's review three signs you should be looking at during these skin checks! And if you were newly diagnosed, check out Caretalk's page for support and advice for new patients.

    1. Diabetic Feet

    The feet are one of the biggest areas of concern for a person with Type 2 Diabetes. When checking your feet—ideally on a daily basis—you should be looking for any open wounds, blisters, or red, warm areas. This is important because diabetes may affect your ability to feel your feet, which can lead to skin damage and infection. For example, if you recently got a new pair of shoes, they may have given you blisters that you didn't know about, or you may have stubbed your toe and didn't notice. Other foot care tips include avoiding going barefoot (especially on hot surfaces), testing the water temperature before taking a bath, and carefully cutting your toenails. If you think something is going on, go to the doctor sooner rather than later—it will make things so much easier for you.

    2. Check Hidden Spots For Sores and Blisters

    These areas include your back and any skin folds. It is always important to note if something is starting to not look right, especially in these areas. As a person with Type 2 Diabetes, you are at risk for skin infections and need to treat them quickly to prevent worsening. Skin folds are at risk for getting red and moist in hot weather. This redness and warmth can lead to yeast and bacterial infections of the skin and can cause you to get sick—but if you do your skin checks properly, you can prevent those infections! An easy way to get in the habit of examining your back is with a mirror, or with the help of a member of your household.

    3. Dry Skin

    You want to inspect your overall skin for areas that are drier than normal. This is important because, if you have dry skin, what are you most likely to do? Most people will scratch at the area, and this can increase the risk for an infection if you have Type 2 Diabetes. It is important to treat dry skin with moisturizer (we also recommend avoiding long, hot showers). If none of this is working, be sure to talk to your doctor. A doctor can evaluate your dry skin and may have some alternative ways to treat the dryness.

(Editor's Note: Want more information on key definitions of Type 2 Diabetes? Read Caretalk's article here.)