Diabetes Self Care: 10 Ways to Soothe Dry, Itchy Skin
Not only is dry skin uncomfortable, but scratched or cracked skin is also susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections – common medical complications for those with diabetes.
Although eating well and managing your blood sugar is the first line of defense against dry skin, it is often not enough. Taking lukewarm baths or showers using mild, unscented soaps and shampoos may mitigate but not prevent rough, flaky skin.
One remedy is migrating to a more tropical climate where the air is heavy with moisture year-round. If that is not an option, try one (or more) of the following ideas to help soothe and rehydrate your dry skin.
10 Ways to Soothe Dry Skin
- Make a point of getting plenty of healthy fats in your diet, including omega-3 fatty acids. Excellent sources of omega-3s are flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, eating fatty fish such as salmon, fish or krill oil supplements, walnuts, tofu, chia seeds, fresh basil, and spinach.
- The ideal time to moisturize the skin is after a bath or shower, while the skin is still moist. Frequently recommended lotions are Lubriderm, Cetaphil, Gold Bond, and Curel. For severely dry skin thick, greasy emollients are an option including Aquaphor, Vaseline, Crisco, and SBR Lipocream. Moisturizers containing lactic acid (e.g., Amlactin, Lac-Hydrin) or urea (e.g., Urix, Crmol) may help. Bear grease is likely effective too, but hard to find on store shelves.
- During the cold, dry months humidify your home, particularly the rooms where you spend most of your time such as the bedroom and family/living room.
- Extra virgin olive oil can help soften dry skin and keep it moist. Try dabbing a thin layer of the oil on your skin before applying your regular moisturizer. Another option is to massage olive oil into the dry areas of your body about 30 minutes before showering. After showering, apply your regular moisturizer. Use almond oil instead of the olive oil, if you prefer.
- Milk has anti-inflammatory properties and contains lactic acid that helps skin retain moisture while exfoliating dead cells. Try soaking a washcloth in cold milk and place it on a dry area of your skin for five to seven minutes. Then, gently wash the area with a cloth soaked in lukewarm water.
- Add a few drops of lemon juice and rose water to four tablespoons of milk. Gently rub this solution over the skin, wait ten minutes, and wash using cool or cold water. Do this twice daily for very dry skin.
- While your skin is moist from a bath or shower, apply almond or coconut oil to your dry skin. This is most effective when done daily. You might also apply warm coconut oil to your body before going to bed, and gently wash it off in the morning.
- Find a good avocado smoothie recipe and enjoy one every day. The healthy fats in avocados keep skin moist and hydrated. You can also mash an avocado into a smooth paste and apply to your dry skin. After 15 minutes, rinse it off with cold water.
- Although people with diabetes are advised to take short baths, the protein in oatmeal puts a protective barrier on the skin that helps prevent dehydration. Once a week, pour a cup of plain oatmeal into a tub of warm water. Add a few drops of an essential oil if you wish, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Before bedtime, drink a glass of warm milk mixed with a teaspoon of almond oil. This is a great way to moisturize from the inside out.