As public health officials nationwide take precautions to help senior citizens endure the sizzling summer weather, another group vulnerable to heat related health problems is the diabetic population. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons urges diabetes patients to be aware that prolonged hot and humid weather can lead to myriad foot woes -- even third-degree burns -- if they don’t protect their feet carefully.
Concerns for diabetes patients in extreme heat involve swelling, dryness and cracking from wearing sandals and problems associated with walking barefoot, such as puncture wounds and burns and blisters from hot pavement. Just a few minutes walking barefoot on a hot driveway or sidewalk to fetch the newspaper can badly burn the soles of a diabetic patient’s feet due to impaired nerve sensation from the disease. Most diabetes patients know they shouldn’t walk barefoot, but sometimes think there’s no harm if it’s just for a few minutes.
Any type of skin break on a diabetic foot has the potential to get infected and ulcerate if it isn’t noticed right away. Therefore, wearing sandals all the time in the summer poses problems. Feet constantly exposed in flip-flops or strap sandals lose moisturizing oils, causing dry, rough skin prone to cracking.
Some diabetes patients experience foot swelling in hot weather, which makes their shoes fit tighter and may exert blister-causing pressure on the toes and heels. Like it or not, diabetes patients whose feet get swollen in hot weather should wear support stockings. Compression is the best way to reduce swelling and avoid complications such as poor circulation and further impaired nerve function.
Vigilant foot care is a year-round responsibility for diabetes patients, but the temptations of summer can test even the most conscientious patient’s resolve.
What’s more natural than bare feet and sandals in the summer? Unfortunately, there’s no off-season for diabetes, so patients must be very careful with their feet to avoid skin breaks and subsequent infections and ulcerations that result from this disease.
For further information about diabetic foot care and/or set-up a consultation. Please contact 1 of our 3 offices:
Middleburg Heights Office: Phone (440) 243-1473
Lyndhurst Office: Phone (216) 382-8070
Beachwood Office: Phone (216) 591-1905