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How diabetes can affect health of your skin and feet

Diabetes, which affects nearly all organs in the human body, can also have a significant effect on your skin and feet, said experts on World Diabetes Day.

World Diabetes Day is marked every year on November 14 to raise awareness about the chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. While most people are aware of its effects on the pancreas and insulin production, fewer realise the significant impact it can have on other organs.

A recent Indian Council of Medical Research-INdia Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study showed that a tenth of all Indians have diabetes. The country is home to 101 million diabetics and 136 million pre-diabetic people.

According to health experts, the number is set to rapidly increase in the coming years due to shifting lifestyles with almost zero exercise and increased consumption of junk foods.

“High blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes can lead to a range of skin complications, including dry skin, slow wound healing, infections, and various dermatological issues. These complications are primarily a result of poor blood circulation and nerve damage, which commonly occur in diabetes,” Dr. Mohit Saran, Consultant – Internal Medicine and Diabetologist, Manipal Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.

“Diabetes goes beyond blood sugar levels, impacting skin health in several ways. From dryness and slow wound healing to heightened infection risks, it’s vital to address these issues holistically. A dermatologist’s personalised skin treatment and skincare regimen can help prevent skin problems for people with diabetes,” added Dr. Mohd Asif, Co-founder, Cara Clinic Mumbai.

Dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon Dr. Saran said that controlling blood sugar levels through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper medication is crucial. He also suggested maintaining good hygiene practices and moisturising the skin regularly to help prevent dryness and itching.

“If skin problems do arise, prompt medical attention is important to prevent them from worsening and causing severe infections,” he said.

Besides, regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, adhering to medication, and following a balanced diet are crucial steps. Additionally, practising good skincare habits, such as gentle cleansing and moisturising, can help keep the skin healthy.

Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is also important, as they can exacerbate skin issues.

India, also known as the diabetes capital of the world, has witnessed a troubling increase in Type 2 diabetes prevalence among young adults, as studies indicate a steady surge in cases among those aged 20-40. The pervasive issue of diabetes, affecting approximately 15 to 20 per cent of adults globally, underscores the urgency for increased awareness and preventive measures.

Another malady that diabetes contributes to is foot complications. It is because the blood sugar condition severely impacts nerves and blood supply to the feet, increasing the risk of developing ulcers.

Dr. Harish Kumar, Clinical Professor and Head, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, noted that an estimated 15 per cent of people with diabetes will face diabetic foot problems, translating to one in 6 or one in 7 individuals grappling with potentially devastating complications.

The doctor emphasised the importance of preventive measures, including the use of appropriate diabetic footwear for both indoor and outdoor activities. Recognising that neuropathy elevates the risk of foot problems, daily foot examinations, cleanliness, and moisture maintenance become imperative.

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