If you have been diagnosed as being diabetic, along with taking care of your diet and fitness, skin care becomes crucial too. For the condition often causes skin problems that take a while longer than others to solve.
Of course, all skin care starts with a basic care regimen. The first thing to do is to identify your skin type whether its oily, dry or combination and visit your dermatologist to be advised on what skin care you must invest in. Additionally, you can identify what problems your skin has whether its ageing signs, acne ridden skin, scars, dullness or pigmentation.
Basic skin care involves using a cleanser, moisturiser and a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more for Indian weather. Dr Shuba Dharmana, who is a cosmetic dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon, has these tips to offer.
Oily skin: Use a cleanser with salicylic or benzoyl peroxide for oily and acne prone skin. These ingredients help to clean the pores and dissolve the dirt and sebum which give rise to more breakouts. Facial scrubs must be used cautiously by people with active acne. Sunscreen should be non-comedogenic so it does not cause pimples. Make sure your moisturiser is serum or water-based so it does not clog pores. Look for a moisturiser that has alpha hydroxyl acids or antioxidants .
Dry skin: Use a creamy face wash or a gently foaming face wash that is moisturising. If your skin is very dry, you can wash it in the night as it's most dirty then and just rinse with cold water in the morning. This must be followed by an appropriate moisturiser and sunscreen. Dry skin tends to flake and age faster showing wrinkles, dullness and so its good to use a retinol product as a moisturiser at night. Moisturisers and sunscreens can be cream based. You can use a facial scrub once or twice a week to get rid of the dry peeling skin.
Combination skin: This type of skin needs the same products as for oily skin but it can be a challenge as the cheeks can feel very dry. You may have to modify the application of your skin care products or change to other products that are milder.
Sensitive skin: People with sensitive skin have frequent breakouts or redness, irritation or itching when they use certain products. Products that have aloe vera or other calming agents may be helpful.
Apart from your basic skin care including cleansing, moisturising, suncare and home made facial scubs, there are a few more things that will help you get a glowing skin:
Supplements: Multivitamin and antioxidant supplements are essential, as most of our diets are not adequate in terms of the nutrients consumed.
Healthy Diet: A well-balanced diet that includes five portions of veggies and fruit, protein, fat and carbohydrates is necessary. Foods rich in antioxidants like coloured veggies, berries, green tea can be included in your diet. Antioxidants limit the damage that is happening from the oxidation of free radicals in the body. It has been shown that they can reduce or slow down ageing to a certain extent.
Exercise: Exercising atleast 3-4 times a week is necessary not just for overall health but also to improve circulation that brings about a glow.
Water intake: It is important to keep up your intake of water and fluids to stay hydrated.
Limit smoking and alcohol: These have a detrimental affect on the skin causing dullness, ageing and dehydration.
Meditation/yoga: Taking care of inner health including that of the mind gives you a calmness and glow that is very attractive.
Moisturise your body at least once a day. People who have dry skin need to moisturise more often.
Exfoliate once every two weeks to get rid of dry or flaking skin.
If you have unwanted hair which you would like to get rid of, there are several options including laser hair removal , shaving and waxing.
If you are considering taking any skin treatment, be sure you have run them through your dermatologist.
Peels: Peels exfoliate the outer layers of the skin. It helps to lighten pigmentation, spots and improves texture of the skin. They also help in reducing acne.
Photofacials: Laser facials are getting popular for lightening spots and to impart radiance.
Microdermabrasion: This a deeper skin exfoliation done with the help of a machine at the dermatologist’s clinic.
Fractional Laser: Treatment to reduce pitting, acne scars, accidental and surgical scars.
Fillers: Dermal filler injections are used to plump, lift and fill areas in the skin where there is loss of fat or collagen like cheeks and lips. They are also used to sculpt and correct chin, jawline and nose non-surgically without having to go under general aneasthesia.
Botox : These injections reduce lines and wrinkles on the face. They must always be done by an experienced dermatologist after a detailed consultation.
How diabetic skin care works
It is important to take care of your blood sugar levels and keep it under control to prevent any worsening of your foot problems. Diabetes makes you susceptible to skin infections so it is important to care for your skin.
Diabetic foot ulcers is one of the complications of having uncontrolled diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy affects nerves and damages them. There is less sensation due to nerve injury hence cuts, bruises and injuries must be checked regularly or they may go unnoticed resulting in ulcers. Blood vessels are also affected so there is less oxygenated blood flowing hence healing of wounds will be much slower and skin breaks down easily to form ulcers. Therefore pulses on the feet must be checked by your doctor in your annual checkups. Any ill fitting shoes where the toes are rubbing against each other or where excessive pressure is delivered to the balls of the feet allows formation of corns and abrasions which can get infected. Proper fitting soft shoes that protect and allow the feet to breathe are necessary. Any ulcer must be examined and treated immediately.
Check your feet everyday and inspect any cuts and wounds. They are to be taken of as early as possible.
If you have corns and calluses, have them checked by a good podiatrist.
Keep the toe nails clipped but get your pedicurist or podiatrist to do them for you if you cannot see well. It is important not to have cuts.
If you have any skin lesions or thickness of the skin on some parts of the body you should see your doctor for treatment as poor diabetic control is associated with some skin changes called diabetic dermopathy.
Any cracks, fissures and fungal infections in the feet must also be checked by a doctor and promptly treated.