Diabetics often experience annoying itching. This is a common side effect of elevated blood sugar levels, which is a determining factor in diabetes. If you have unbearable itching, read step 1 to find out how to relieve irritation on your skin.
Overcome Itching by Changing Your Lifestyle
Prevent dry skin. Keep skin moist and healthy using moisturizers and creams. Avoid using creams and lotions that contain scented ingredients because your skin may react to these ingredients, making the itching worse. Moisturize the skin twice a day. After each shower, rub about 2 tablespoons of moisturizer all over the body, or use as needed.
You should also avoid using soaps that contain fragrances as they can dry out and irritate your skin. Instead, use a mild soap without fragrance.
Change the way you shower. Bathing too often can make itching worse. So, limit the shower to 2 days only. The frequency of bathing can be adjusted according to weather conditions, climate, and your activities. However, bathing every 2 days should be enough. Avoid using very hot water when bathing as it tends to irritate the skin further. Instead, use room temperature water or even colder water. Hot water can dilate blood vessels thereby accelerating the rate of insulin metabolism which can trigger hypoglycemia.
The reason why diabetics should not use hot water is due to nerve damage which reduces their body’s sensitivity to pain and temperature. As a result, without realizing it, their skin can burn when using hot water.
Take care of the skin in the dry season. The dry season is the perfect time to spend some time in the sun. However, sunlight can also be very irritating to the skin. To reduce itching in the dry season, wear light clothing such as cotton, chiffon, or linen. Meanwhile, other clothing, such as wool or silk can cause itching and skin irritation.
Make sure to keep your skin dry from sweat because too much humidity can sometimes trigger itching.
Drink lots of water to meet the fluid needs of the skin. Drink 8 glasses (250 ml in volume) every day. However, if you are active or live in a hot climate, you may need to drink more water.
Take care of the skin in winter. If you live in a 4 seasons country, your skin will be very dry during winter. As a result, diabetics have to maintain more moisture and try to meet the fluid needs of their skin. Moisturize your skin twice a day with a fragrance-free lotion. Turning on a humidifier along with heating can also relieve and prevent itching from getting worse.
Reduce stress. Itching will intensify when stressed. This means, when stressed, the itching you feel will get worse. To deal with stress, practice relaxation. This exercise includes:
Meditation. By meditating, you can clear your mind and release the stress you are feeling. Meditate for a few minutes each morning so that your mind remains relaxed throughout the day.
Use motivational sentences. Choose a phrase or sentence that calms you down, such as “Everything will be fine”, or “It’s okay”. When you start to feel stressed, take a few deep breaths and repeat the words in your mind until you feel calm.
Overcome Itching with Home Treatments
Use a cold compress to soothe the skin. The use of cold compresses is very useful to relieve itching on the skin. Temperature signals are relayed through the same pathways as itching signals to the brain. Apply a cold compress to the itchy area until it subsides.
You can also take a cold shower to relieve itching. Just remember that diabetics are not advised to bathe too often, especially if your blood glucose levels are difficult to control. So, you should only use a cold compress.
Try using an oatmeal mixture to relieve itching. Combine cup of water with 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal and mix until it forms a thick paste. Apply this mixture to the itchy area. Let the oatmeal mixture sit on your skin for 15 minutes. Oatmeal will relieve itching and make you feel more comfortable for a while.
Use a baking soda mixture to reduce the itching sensation. You can also use a paste made by mixing half a cup of water with a cup of baking soda. Stir the mixture with a spoon until smooth and smooth. Apply this mixture to the itchy body part and leave it on for 15 minutes, then wash it off.
Overcoming itching with medicine
Use over-the-counter medicated creams. Creams or ointments can be used to relieve your itching. Keep in mind that a penny-sized cream can cover twice the surface of your skin as a palm. Look for a medication that contains one of the following ingredients to treat itching:
Camphor, menthol, phenol, diphenhydramine, and benzocaine.
Apply steroid ointment to the itchy area. Some over-the-counter anti-itch creams contain steroids and can relieve itching. Hydrocortisone cream is usually the first choice and can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies. You can also use betamethasone cream which has the same effect as hydrocortisone.
Keep in mind that you should not use creams or ointments containing steroids long term without consulting your doctor first.
Use an antifungal cream to prevent yeast infections. If you have diabetes, your immune system will weaken. As a result, your body is more susceptible to infection. One of them is a fungal infection that grows on the skin and causes itching. To fix this, look for an antifungal cream that contains:
Miconazole, ketoconazole, or benzoic acid.
Take an antihistamine. Histamine is the hormone that causes itching. As long as you use antihistamines, these hormones will be suppressed so that the itching you feel will subside. Commonly used antihistamines include:
Chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Keep in mind that these antihistamines will make you drowsy.
Discuss other options with your doctor. If the above methods do not relieve your itching, or you suspect that the itching is caused by a serious problem, you should contact your doctor. The doctor will further examine the cause of your itching.