General Health Care

Because too much blood sugar makes the body lose fluid, people with diabetes are more likely than others to have dry and itchy skin. In bad cases, dry skin can become cracked. These cracks make it easier for germs that cause infections to get into your body.

Too much blood sugar can also cause nerve damage that decreases the amount of sweat your body makes. Sweat cools the body, but also helps keep the skin moist.

To keep your skin healthy:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wash with a mild soap.
  • Dry your skin well after showers and baths.
  • Use a gentle moisturizing lotion after bathing, especially in the winter.
  • Hot showers can dry the skin, so use lukewarm water instead.
  • Check your skin after bathing for areas that are dry, red or sore.
  • Call your doctor if you have a skin problem that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Because high blood sugar makes it easier for bacteria that can damage your teeth and gums to grow, people with diabetes are at greater risk for dental problems than others.

To keep your teeth and gums healthy:

  • Keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Use dental floss at least once a day. Floss removes germs that your toothbrush misses.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease.
  • If you wear false teeth, make sure you keep them clean.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings.

See your dentist if you have any of the following warning signs:

  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • A gum line that seems to be receding, making your teeth look long
  • Tooth pain
  • A loose tooth
  • Bad breath
  • Your bite feels different
  • Your dentures don’t fit right

Being sick with the cold, the flu or other illnesses puts your body under stress. That stress can raise your blood sugar to dangerous levels, so you’ll need to take extra precautions when you are sick. On sick days you should:

  • Check your blood sugar every 4 hours. Keep track of your levels in a log or notebook.
  • Drink plenty of water – at least 8 ounces (1 cup) every hour while you’re awake.
  • If you can’t eat like you normally do, eat light foods such as soup and crackers. You can also drink juice or clear liquids that have sugar in them to keep your glucose in a normal range.
  • Keep taking your medicines like normal. If you’re having trouble eating, ask your doctor or diabetes educator if you need to adjust your medication.
  • Test your urine for ketones if your blood sugar is above 240 or you can’t keep food down. Contact your doctor immediately if your ketones are high.