Most people look forward to going barefoot on the beach or wearing sandals during summer months. But for patients with diabetes, who often have poor circulation and nerve damage in their feet, simple activities like these can be dangerous.
“Patients with diabetes always have to pay close attention to taking care of their feet, even in the typically carefree days of summer,” explains Christine Fields, diabetic nurse educator at Main Line Health Center in Newtown Square.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to mean a summer in sneakers. With a few extra precautions, you can still enjoy sandal weather, even with diabetes. Follow the suggestions below to enjoy the summer months while still protecting your feet.
Maintain proper glucose levels
Patients with diabetes 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 seven percent. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, proper medication as prescribed by your doctor, monitoring your blood sugar can help ensure these levels.
Avoid walking barefoot
It can be tempting to take a walk through the sand, but seashells, broken glass, and ocean debris can puncture the skin of your feet and cause infection. Hot sand or sidewalks can also cause burns on your feet, so always wear shoes when you’re going to be outside.
Buy the right shoes and socks
Your shoes should be a perfect fit, as those that are too small can cause blister and calluses. Adult feet usually change sizes four to five times, and weight fluctuations, weather, and poor circulation can alter the size of your feet. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had a fitting or you’re not sure what the right size shoe is for you, ask for your feet to be measured. When buying socks, look for those that are soft and thick with no seams, as they could rub and cause blisters.
Inspect your feet daily
When was the last time you took a look at the bottom of your feet? For patients with diabetes, it’s important to inspect your feet before putting your shoes on and after taking them off. Check between your toes, on your heel, and in your shoe for any debris. Something as small as a pebble or sand can be enough to cause discomfort and, potentially, infection.
Use lotion for smooth skin
Especially in the summer, it’s easy for the skin on your feet to dry out. Rub a thin coat of lotion on the top and bottom of your feet, but avoid putting it in between your toes. Excess moisture can lead to a fungal infection.
Trim your toenails
Cut your toenails straight across and file the edges.
Make an appointment
For patients with diabetes, appointments with a podiatrist are important and should happen regularly. During the summer months, your feet are at a higher risk for fungal infections because of heat and excess moisture. Seeing your podiatrist at least once during the summer can help ensure you’re keeping your feet as healthy as possible.