A simple wound can get infected when you are diabetic, so it makes sense to pay close attention to cuts and bruises—even if they don't look all that bad.

"The longer you have diabetes, the more you should be watchful," says Amy Hess Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, BC-AD, CDE, of the University of Chicago's Kovler Diabetes Center.

Besides treating cuts and bruises, you can often prevent skin problems from occurring in the first place, says Catherine Jonnakuty, MD, FACE, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.

Here's a list of do's and don'ts that will help you keep cuts and bruises from turning into larger problems, from Fischl and Jonnakuty.


  • Always treat cuts immediately by washing them with soap and water.
  • Use mild shampoo and a moisturizing soap like Dove or Basis.
  • Use an antibiotic cream or ointment if your doctor says it's okay. Minor cuts should be covered with Band-Aids or sterile gauze.
  • Be alert to signs of infection in any cut. Signs to watch for include redness, pain, odor, swelling, or increased drainage. If any of these develop, contact your doctor right away.
  • See your doctor promptly if you have a major cut, burn, or infection.
  • Keep your home more humid during the cold, dry months.
  • Bathe less frequently in cold, dry weather.
  • Examine your skin, especially your feet, on a daily basis. If you can't see all areas of your feet, use a mirror for hard-to-see areas.
  • Keep your toenails well trimmed, cutting them straight across rather than rounded.
  • Wear cotton socks that aren't too tight, and wear shoes that fit well and that offer good protection.
  • Walk for exercise. It promotes blood flow.


  • Take very hot baths and showers.
  • Take bubble baths, especially if you have very dry skin.
  • Soak your feet.
  • Use alcohol, iodine, or Mercurochrome antiseptic to clean the skin—they are too harsh.
  • Put lotion between your toes since extra moisture can encourage fungus to grow there.
  • Use feminine hygiene sprays.
  • Try to treat callouses, blisters, or thick, brittle nails yourself. And steer clear of over the counter corn or callous products.
  • Go barefoot, even indoors.
  • Smoke, smoking reduces blood flow.

Most importantly, keep your diabetes well controlled since individuals with high blood sugar not only have dry skin but are less able to ward off harmful bacteria. And both high blood sugar and a reduced ability to ward off disease-causing bacteria are linked to a higher than average risk of infection, Catherine Jonnakuty, MD, FACE, explains.