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Part I: Health-challenged Skin—Diabetes

Morag Currin February 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
professional skin care and diabetes

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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.


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Acanthosis nigricans

Beneficial Ingredients for Diabetic Clients

Skin care products containing some of the following ingredients would be beneficial for many diabetic clients.

  • L-Carnosine Benfotiamine. This is a patent-pending, chirally correct endogenous free-radical scavenger and antiglycation complex. During glycation, reactions between sugars and proteins lead to intramolecular cross-links called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This cross-linking throws off key enzymatic processes and harms their ability to protect from oxidative stress, which allows for inflammation. The final impact of this process is for collagen and elastin proteins to stiffen and lose elasticity. The issue with glycation can be improved with this ingredient.
  • Calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu seed oil). This ingredient features potent collagen synthesis activity, and helps heal and prevent stretch marks, broken capillaries and problem skin. It supports wound-healing and fragile skin, which are problems common to diabetic clients.
  • Scrofularia nodosa (figwort extract). This ingredient reduces itching, irritation and stinging, as well as decreases skin reactivity.

Additional Skin Manifestations

Localized itching is often caused by diabetes and can be caused by a yeast infection, dry skin or poor circulation. Several kinds of bacterial infections can also occur in people with diabetes. These include:

  • Styes (infections of the glands of the eyelids);
  • Boils;
  • Folliculitis (infections of the hair follicles); and
  • Infections around the nails.

Several kinds of fungal infections can occur with diabetic clients, including:

  • Candida albicans (yeastlike fungus);
  • Jock itch;
  • Athlete’s foot; and
  • Ringworm (ring-shaped itchy patch).

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