Skin Care & Diabetes
As a person with diabetes, your body has specific needs that extend well beyond carefully monitoring your insulin levels. Diabetes can change your body in a range of different ways, and your skin is no exception. Taking care of yourself after a diabetes diagnosis involves re-examining what skincare means for you, how your skin’s needs have changed, and how you can best meet those needs.
These changes can come in unexpected ways. One of the most common surprises to a person recently diagnosed with diabetes, is the significant impact constantly applying and removing medical appliances and dressings can have on your skin. Daily usage of an insulin monitor and insulin pump can result in damage to the epidermis of the surrounding skin in the form of a medical adhesive-related skin injury (MARSI).
MARSI is most prevalent in certain at-risk demographics, specifically those with reduced skin elasticity such as young children and older adults, as well as those with pre-existing skin conditions. Both Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes can impact your skin – Type 2 can cause itchiness, while Type 1 can cause skin dryness through damage to blood vessels and nerves.
As MARSI arises out of use of adhesive tape, a potential cause of MARSI in people with diabetes is the affixing of the cannula of an insulin pump to the skin. Even within this context, MARSI can take a range of forms. Depending on which tape you’ve selected, how long it’s been affixed, how you applied it and how you remove it alongside a range of other factors, this damage can range from mild irritation and redness, to stinging pain, skin breakdown and stripping, alongside maceration and dermatitis.
As such, it’s important that you stay on top of your skin’s health. Look for discolouration or signs of dermatitis or maceration alongside mechanical injuries to help guide your skincare as they could be the early signs that you need to change your behaviour.
How can I better protect my skin?
Everyone’s skin is different, so what’s best for you may not be best for someone else. As such doing the right thing for your skin requires experimentation and guidance from your healthcare professionals, as you find out exactly what your body needs.
Regardless, some basic principles apply – moisturise regularly, choose a gentle cleanser for the shower, wear sunscreen when outside and avoid products and scents that irritate your skin.
For the skin immediately surrounding your insulin injection point, a skin barrier such as Silesse™ and an adhesive remover such as Niltac™ can help to make application and removal faster and simpler without compromising the strength of the tape, while reducing the risk of mechanical injury. The result is simpler, pain-free use of your insulin pump each day.
Speak to your healthcare professional to find out if Niltac™ and Silesse™ are right for you.
You can purchase Niltac™ and Silesse™ through the Diabetes Shop.
Members of Diabetes NSW & ACT, Diabetes Queensland, and Diabetes Tasmania will receive a 10% discount through the Diabetes Shop.
 de Macedo, G.M.C., Nunes, S. & Barreto, T. Skin disorders in diabetes mellitus: an epidemiology and physiopathology review. Diabetol Metab Syndr 8, 63 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13098-016-0176-y
 Steele N. Skin care protection for urostomates. Journal of Community Nursing. 2009; 23 (6):16-17
 Trio Products Test Report TR- 012. September 2010. Data on file. ConvaTec, Inc.
 Black P. Peristomal skin care: an overview of available products. British Journal of Nursing. Vol 16. No 17. 2007. Page 1054