Summer activities, such as swimming or walking on the beach, usually are done while barefoot or wearing sandals. But for people with diabetes, these activities can be dangerous.
People with diabetes often have poor circulation and nerve damage in their hands and feet, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). They may not know when they have a foot injury and so are less likely to manage or treat the injury immediately.
If you have diabetes, the following suggestions can help you to enjoy the summer months while protecting your feet.
You should try to maintain a blood sugar level of 70 to 130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL two hours after starting a meal, with a hemoglobin A1C level less than 7 percent, the ADA says. You can help do this through regular exercise; paying close attention to how often you eat and what types of foods you consume; using any medications you may require as directed; and monitoring your blood sugar as frequently as necessary for optimal control. See your health care provider or nutritionist to develop a diet plan that works for your individual needs and lifestyle.
When you're at the beach, seashells, glass or ocean debris can puncture your skin and cause serious infections. Walking barefoot on a hot pavement can lead to severe burns and infection, the ADA says.
Your shoes should be a perfect fit, the ADA says. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause blisters or calluses, so make sure to have your feet measured each time you buy shoes. Adult feet usually change sizes four or five times during the course of a lifetime, and weight fluctuations, changes in weather and poor circulation can change the shape and size of your foot.
Look at your feet every day before putting on shoes and after taking them off. Using a magnifying mirror can be helpful if you aren't flexible enough to see underneath the foot. Check between the toes and at the heel. Before putting on your shoes, look inside them for debris that may rub your feet. Even a small pebble or sand can create a sore that may not cause pain but can lead to more serious infection if not treated promptly.
Rub a thin coat of lotion on the top and bottom of your feet, but not between the toes, the ADA says.
Cut them straight across and file the edges.
During the summer months, your feet may be at risk for more fungal infection because of the heat and increased moisture, the ADA says. Your feet also may be more at risk for calluses because of the change in summer footwear. Your podiatrist can help you manage minor infections so they don't lead to complications.
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