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All you should know about beauty care for diabetics

Monday, December 4, 2017
Beauty professional Racquel Andrews-Mensah performs a diabetic pedicure on one of her clients.

When you’re diabetic and it comes to your skincare, it just can’t be business as usual. Because you are now prone to developing skin complications, it is paramount your skin is handled with intentional care so that serious infections don’t develop.

Health providers and those specialising in skincare for diabetics say as many as a third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. With this as an unfortunate fact, what can one really do to maintain healthy skin as a diabetic?

Internationally trained cosmetologist, skincare professional, specialising in skincare for diabetics and owner at Divine Training Institute and Beauty Clinic Racquel Andrews-Mensah, told the T&T Guardian without a doubt this can be achieved.

Said Andrews- Mensah: “Bearing in mind you follow your diet, use the right skin care products and be skeptical of who you receive treatment from, because that person has to be trained in caring for the skin of a diabetic.” She explained people living with diabetes are very vulnerable due to the fact that their skin is thinner and more sensitive, which means they will experience sensations such as heat or cold much faster.
“In addition, because of their vulnerabilities it’s very easy for a diabetic to get burn, cut or bruise especially during beauty services, which can lead to the development of ulcers,” Andrews-Mensah pointed out.
She said when it comes to getting services done such as pedicures, manicures and waxing, any invasive service or services that require heat, abrasion, cutting and nipping, diabetes is a contraindication. Elderly or insulin-dependent diabetics are more at risk; therefore more care should be taken, she advised.

She outlined some important do’s and dont’s for diabetics when visiting the spa. “When it comes to a diabetic receiving these services care should be taken; a diabetic shouldn’t soak during a pedicure as the water can burn the skin.

“However, exceptions can be made, as people will still like to enjoy the full spa relaxing and pampering experience, especially if they are young, type II and relatively healthy.”

In a case where a diabetic is allowed to soak, she said the temperature shouldn’t be above body temperature (37 degrees) and they shouldn’t soak for more than five minutes. Sharp tools such as nippers, steel cuticle pushers, abrasive files, foot paddlers are an absolute no and foot shavers should at no time be used on a diabetic. “Even foot scrubs have abrasive granules that can create minor cuts or scrapes and bruises therefore, should not be used on diabetics,” added Andrews- Mensah .


Andrews-Mensah advised, paraffin treatments should not be used because the heat of the wax can burn the skin. She said: “Waxing is the use of a heated wax that can burn anyone if done incorrectly and a diabetic is at higher risk because their skin is thinner. What makes waxing even more dangerous is the fact that waxing is a form of skin exfoliation this means that superficial layers of the epidermis are being removed during the process, which can also contribute to bruising.”

She said a wonderful alternative to waxing is body sugaring, this is a form of hair removal using a sugar paste. It is very natural and the benefit is it is not heated beyond body temperature or no heat is used at all, making it very safe to use on a diabetic.

“A diabetic reading this might feel a bit discouraged and wonder just what they can do when it comes to beauty and grooming services. But as much as these services are risky, they are very important to the diabetic. And there are helpful alternatives.”

Foot care

For foot care, Andrews-Mensah said, there are alternative services such as a diabetic pedicure and manicure in which the specialist or podiatrist uses an electric file with different diamond bits specially designed for cuticle and callus removal and shaping. Diamond bits according to Andrews-Mensah are used as they don’t really get hot, and it’s not sharp making it very safe to use on a diabetic.

Other tools she revealed can be used are the toenail clipper specially designed for diabetics. And to get that nice healthy looking cuticle, the plastic with rubber ended cuticle pushers or orange/birch wood sticks are ideal.

This process requires she informed no soaking and can be a bit dusty but very safe and effective.

For dry scaly feet, Andrews-Mensah recommends the use of foot masks, a mask that has ten per cent urea (organic compound with the chemical formula CO(NH) in it. She said the technician can rub the recommended amount on to the affected area, place each foot in a plastic bag to allow the product to do its work and penetrate. This has shown to have fantastic results,

You might be diabetic, but your skin does not have to reflect that. Andrew- Mensah explained diabetics tend to have very dry/dehydrated sometimes scaly, flaky skin as a result of the skin being thinner making it more susceptible to environmental free radicals.

“Their body tends to produce very little urea which is a major moistening factor for the skin. Therefore, making skin exfoliation very important, on the other hand the conventional granular scrub is not the best option; in a case like this a light sloughing lotion will be recommended. Sloughing lotions allows the skin to be exfoliated without the harsh granules. Just by the technician applying a suitable amount to the intended area and via the use of friction, this will allow the residue of the sloughing lotion to fall off together with the dead skin cells.

Andrews- Mensah said this approach is perfect for use on elderly people or people in general that have dry scaly skin. She added, it is not recommended for people living with diabetes or even elderly people to use any lotions that are occlusive as it traps moisture and a diabetic lacks moisture which defeats that purpose and causes the skin to become dryer.

Some examples of occlusive products Andrews-Mensah pointed out are petrolatum, waxes, oils and silicones. She recommended products that include humectants like urea and glycerin were fitting because they help to create and prevent water and moisture loss.

“Another recommendation is finding a product that has a chemical exfoliant in a low percentage like alpha hydroxy acid AHA (glycolic, lactic); this will allow the skin to speed up the exfoliating process, thus maintaining nice smooth skin.

“Remember your skin can look great, even as a diabetic!”


Racquel Andrews-Mensah’s tips for home care:

Not everyone might be able to visit a spa as often as they need to. For diabetics, here are some home care guidelines until that next appointment.

A person living with diabetes is at risk for diabetic neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, athlete’s foot, fungal infection of nails, calluses, corns, blister, bunions, dry skin, foot ulcers, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, and planter warts. Therefore, home maintenance and professional help is very important.

Basic recommendations for home maintenance is doing your daily checks under feet and between toes, use caution when shaving, bathe with moisturising soaps, dry between toes, keep skin moisturised, avoid creaming between toes as this can create moisture and create a breathing ground for fungus, monitor all cuts, if it’s taking too long to heal seek medical help, avoid smoking as it affects blood circulation, avoid walking bare feet and wearing discomforting shoes.


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