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Part I: Health-challenged Skin—Diabetes

By: Morag Currin
Posted: January 31, 2013, from the February 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor’s note: This article is based on the book Health-challenged Skin: The Estheticians’ Desk Reference (Alluredbooks, 2012) by Mórag Currin, which is available for purchase at Also, a presentation based on this article by Kris Campbell of Tecniche will take place during the Advanced Education Conference Program at Face & Body® Midwest in Chicago on March 9, 2013. To register, log on to

The professional skin care industry is often in a better position than the medical industry to deliver preventive health care recommendations, providing services in an environment that can actually help people make long-lasting lifestyle changes, which is the most effective path to disease prevention and optimal health.

In order to fulfill these needs, skin care facilities must consider adjusting their business models to encompass fitness, complementary medicine and spirituality/mental health treatments. Because people today are living longer, more are developing health issues as a result of their lifestyles. Knowledge about common diseases and syndromes makes a visit to the spa for clients with illnesses far safer and more acceptable. In Part I of this article, diabetes will be discussed, including the type of skin reactions experienced, as well as ingredients and modalities that are safe to use with this client. Not every person is going to have the same set of reactions as the next, so each client needs to be addressed based on their own personal issues resulting from their diseased state.


Diabetes mellitus, commonly known simply as diabetes, is a chronic health condition where the body is unable to produce enough insulin and properly break down sugar (glucose) in the blood. Glucose comes from food and is used by the cells for energy. Glucose is also made in the liver. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and it is needed to move sugar into the cells where it can be used for energy necessary for the body’s processes.

According to Merriam-Webster, type 1 diabetes is a form of diabetes mellitus that usually develops during childhood or adolescence, and is characterized by a severe deficiency in insulin secretion resulting from atrophy of the islets of Langerhans, and causing hyperglycemia and a marked tendency toward ketoacidosis. Type 2 diabetes is a common form of diabetes mellitus that develops especially in adults and most often in obese individuals, and is characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from impaired insulin utilization coupled with the body’s inability to compensate with increased insulin production.