Nourish Your Dry Winter Skin

Nourish Your Dry Winter Skin: Main Image
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

A combination of frigid temperatures, low humidity, and indoor heating can leave your skin bone-dry during the cold winter months, and if you have diabetes, your skin is already vulnerable to dryness, itching, infections, and other skin problems.

Diabetes-related changes in circulation can contribute to the breakdown of collagen—the protein that gives structure and firmness to the body’s connective tissues—which changes the skin's appearance, texture, and ability to heal. Cold weather and dry air exposure add to the challenge, further damaging collagen and leaving you even more susceptible to skin problems, particularly infections. Because an estimated one third of people with diabetes will develop a skin complication that is caused by, or worsened by, their diabetes, it is important to watch for skin irritations, injuries, infections, and other skin changes. Here are some tips for protecting your skin in the winter:

Moisturize the dry areas

Moisturizer may help fill in gaps and cracks, restore elasticity, and protect you from infections. Use a moisturizer wherever your skin is dry, but not in moist areas like between your toes, on your inner thighs, or under your arms. Use products with moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin, petrolatum, lanolin, wheat germ oil, jojoba, mineral oil, borage oil, and safflower and pomegranate seed oils.

Keep moist areas dry

Having diabetes puts you at higher risk of fungal infections in chronically moist areas. Use talcum powder in the places where skin touches skin, such as between your toes, under your arms, and between your upper thighs.

Wash wisely

Too much time spent in hot water can strip the oil from your skin, so be mindful of your time in the shower. Take short baths or showers using warm—not hot—water. Use mild soap-free cleansers, which don’t dry your skin as much, and apply moisturizer soon after bathing.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Remember, the winter sun can give you a sunburn—especially if you’re out on the bright ski slopes. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply it as the package directs.

Perform daily skin checks

Pay attention to all minor skin injuries and irritations. Wash cuts and scratches right away, and see your doctor if you develop wounds that won’t heal or irritations that appear to be worsening. Remember that the feet are particularly vulnerable in people with diabetes, so check your feet daily for signs of problems.

(Skin Care. American Diabetes Association [last edited 2016 May 10]. Available from URL:

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