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Four Tips That Can Protect a Diabetic's Foot This Summer

Diabetes can be a devastating disease, especially when it comes to one's feet. Wounds, infections, and eventual amputations are all part the common complications facing diabetic feet, even more so during the summer months when everyone is more active. However, these complications can be prevented with enough self diligence and the adoption of several simple daily habits. This article presents four helpful tips that can make the difference this summer between healthy feet and a leg amputation.

1. Wear Supportive Shoes

The summer months see everyone become more active outside, especially in colder climates. Unfortunately, many people choose to wear shoes that feel 'cooler', but are poorly supportive. These types of shoes include flip-flop sandals, flats, and slip-on clog type shoes. These shoes may be easy to put on, and may 'feel' cooler. What one trades for though is support and function. These types of shoes offer little to no structural support for the foot. Areas of natural pressure will build up in a diabetic, and pose a risk for calluses and eventual wounds. Blisters from friction can also develop, leading to skin wounds and infections. A better choice for active summer shoe wear is a breathable, well fitting athletic shoe that offers support, comfort, and better structural stability.

2. Treat Small Cuts and Scrapes Immediately and Correctly

It is vital for diabetics to prevent serious foot and leg problems from arising out of small injuries like scrapes, superficial cuts, and opened blisters. These types of minor skin injuries are common sources for bacteria to enter into the body, When high blood sugar or long standing controlled diabetes harms the body's natural defense against bacteria, small cuts, scrapes, and blistered skin can become a launching ground for skin cellulitis, an infection that can potentially spread up one's leg and into the blood stream. It happens commonly enough that hospitals are filled each year with diabetics who thought it was only a scratch. When these mild skin injuries occur, quickly wash the area with soap and water, gently scrubbing the tissue to remove dirt and debris. Apply a thick layer of antibiotic ointment, like triple antibiotic ointment or bacitracin, to the skin and cover it up with a band-aid. this will accomplish two goals. The first is to keep out debris and small particles that may harbor bacteria (which the ointment may kill as well). The second goal is to keep the skin site moist. The dry scabbing process the body uses to heal injured skin is crude and imperfect, especially considering diabetes? effect on tissue healing. By keeping the injured site moist under the band-aid, it will heal faster and with less scarring. Allow a few days for healing to progress. If the skin around the injured area becomes red or swollen, or if the skin is not healing after a few days, one should seek attention from one of your physicians (especially your podiatrist if the injured area is on the foot, as it may need other care such as shoe modification or wound care procedures).

3. Keep The Skin Dry and Clean

Foot skin during the summer (unlike in the winter) can become overly moist due to heat-related sweating, exposure to pools and beaches, as well as activity-related sweating. That extra skin moisture can lead to an over-growth of skin fungus from which an athlete's foot infection can arise. While easy to treat at home, an Athlete's foot fungal infection can possibly lead to a bacterial infection that takes advantage of the fungal infection. Bacterial infections around and in between the toes can potentially find their way into the foot skin through cracks and fissures and cause cellulitis, a progressing skin infection that can spread into the blood stream if left untreated. Diabetics are more at risk for this than non-diabetics. Even without fungus, skin debris and soiling from dirt, shoe material, and other sources can harbor bacteria, leading to the same problem. By regularly washing and carefully drying the feet, especially in between the toes, one can help to prevent this problem. Regular sock changing, and ensuring the material of one's shoes is breathable (such as mesh material in athletic shoes), can also help protect the foot skin from microscopic organisms like fungus and bacteria.

4. Control Blood Sugar

Controlling one's blood sugar is perhaps the most important foot en direct streaming step in preventing foot problems. When blood sugar is normal, the potential for foot complications is significantly lessened. Summer means barbecue, pie, ice cream, and general food celebration in many cultures and neighborhoods around the United States. If kept under control, diabetes may not affect the feet and all of the conditions discussed above can be potentially avoided, ensuring a lifetime of healthy feet.