Did you know your skin is the largest organ of your body? You may not have thought of your skin as an organ, but rather a covering for your internal organs. The truth is, your skin is an organ linking you to and protecting you from the outside world.
The skin of an adult covers about eighteen square feet and weighs approximately seven pounds. Like so many other organs, diabetes can affect your skin too. The good news is the more you know and do about it, the better your skin will be. It starts with knowledge, then following through with what you know to do.
Skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layer.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of your skin. It contains cells that determine your skin color and protect you from damage. Epidermal cells are constantly being worn away and replaced by new epidermal cells. In normal circumstances, injury to this layer of skin rarely causes problems because it usually repairs itself so quickly. For a person with diabetes, however, this can be a problem because once the outer layer of skin is tampered with it may not heal itself as quickly or normally as people who don't have diabetes.
The dermis is the layer underneath your epidermis. The dermis contains your hair follicles, blood vessels, nerve endings, sweat, and sebaceous (oil) glands. Your blood vessels and sweat glands work together to help regulate your temperature. Your sebaceous glands help prevent you from losing too much sweat by coating the surface of your skin with an oily substance called sebum. Injury to this layer is more dangerous than with the epidermis, especially with diabetes. Since diabetes affects your nerves and blood vessels, this is the layer that can cause your skin to be dry. Once dry, it is easy to crack and open. Once opened, either due to dry skin or trauma, it is more difficult to heal.
Below the dermis is the subcutaneous layer. This is where the sweat glands originate and fat is stored. It supports the blood vessels and nerves that feed the outer layers of the skin. Since nerves are in both the dermis and subcutaneous layers, any trauma to these areas will cause you pain, that is, if your nerves are working correctly. Many times your nerves act to protect you. If you touch something hot with your fingers, your nerves tell your brain to tell you to take your fingers off the heat. Just like if your lancet is not sharp enough, your nerves will tell your brain that fingerstick hurt, and if you know enough about diabetes and what's available, you'll make sure you'll use new sharp lancets in the future. If your nerves are not working right, that communication between your nerves and your brain may not happen. You may not feel the pain. If you don't feel the pain, you won't know to protect yourself from it. Burns, cuts, and sores can happen because you didn't have the feeling to protect yourself from them.
How Diabetes Can Affect Your Skin
If your blood glucose is too high, you may urinate a lot, which can cause dehydration. Your nerves and blood vessels that work with your glands to keep your skin moist can be affected, causing dry skin. Dry skin can not only cause earlier wrinkling and premature aging, but dry skin can crack, allowing infection in, which can then be more difficult to heal due to diabetes.
In these cases, as with most complications involving diabetes, prevention is your best medicine. Managing your blood glucose and blood pressure to as near normal as possible, and good nutrition, which includes a healthy fluid intake and physical activity, all add to this. Looking at your skin often to detect any changes and keeping all of your skin clean and moisturized with moisturizers, lotions, or creams are very important not only for your beauty but for your health.
Next month we'll look at products for preventing skin problems as well as wound care treatments for problems that have already occurred.
Until then, keep a good eye on you, keep clean, moisturized, and EnJOY!
Read Joy’s bio here.
Read more of Joy Pape's columns.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
One in Ten AMI Patients Have Unrecognized Incident Diabetes
Two New LDL Cholesterol Drugs May Have Big Impact on Heart Disease
COBA Conference Steers Forward in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity
Google Secures Patent for Glucose-Sensing Contact Lens
Medtronic to Use GlucoSitter Artificial Pancreas Software in Future Insulin Pumps - A Big Deal!
Buttermilk Rolls Lager and Lemon Grilled Chicken Tropical Seafood Salad Fresh Strawberry Pie Caribbean Jerk Pork BBQ Chicken and Macaroni Sweet Caramel and Apple Sauce Enlitened's Low Carb Peach Skewers Roasted Broccoli and Tomato Salad Luscious Lemon Ice Cream
This past weekend was a whole lot of diabetes weird. I've finally gotten into a good rhythm with my Lantus rate - settling in with a 70-30 nighttime-morning split of the total dose. My bolus dosing seems to be pretty much on the money too. I'm avoiding huge swings... Though lows are creeping up more often, I think because summer traditionally is a lower basal rate time, owing to warmer weather, increased activity and sweat, as we get closer to the warmer days I just need less insulin in the...