How to Enjoy West Michigan Summers (with Diabetic Foot Care)
Summers in West Michigan are always something to look forward to. There can only be so many encores of winter before the sun finally wins!
How would you like to enjoy your summer? By celebrating the Coast Guard Festival in South Haven, walking the pathways of Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, or lying out under a galaxy of stars at Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County?
You should have the freedom to go anywhere you want this summer, enjoy your time, and make lasting memories. If you live with diabetes, practicing good foot care is a big step towards keeping complications from ruining your activities.
Diabetic foot care is an everyday commitment that starts well before you plan any day trip or vacation. It involves daily personal inspections as well as periodic professional check-ups to ensure problems don’t get a chance to arise or become worse.
Heading out for summer fun can bring a few additional concerns. Those concerns are nothing you can’t handle. With a little forethought, preparation, and common sense, you will have few worries about any foot-based misfortunes this summer.
We have a few pieces of advice to share with you here, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have further questions or concerns about your diabetic foot care. We are always happy to help diabetic patients with preventative tips and measures.
Do Not Go Barefoot
Warm sand and cold water can be refreshing on the feet, but there are many more dangers a summer environment can present. Burns from hot sidewalks or asphalt and cuts from broken glass, sea shells, and debris can all cause significant problems. Even the sand can get too hot to handle.
Every time you are outside, you should have adequate coverage for your feet. Standard shoes are best for providing full protection, and will be the ideal choice. Shower shoes around water settings are not fully recommended as they are less protective. If you choose to use them, make sure they fit well and be cautious about where you step.
We do not recommend most sandals or other open-toed shoes for several reasons. Most—especially flip-flops—do not provide adequate support for the feet and can place extra stress on them. The straps used to hold sandals on can also cause irritation where they rub against the foot, potentially leading to sores and blisters. The open design of the footwear can also make it easy for a small stone or other piece of debris to get caught against the foot, providing another opportunity for damage.
Any pair of shoes you wear for a summer trip should be a pair that have been broken in. That way you can be more assured that the shoes will not cause you any unexpected troubles while you are out. Our office can provide you with diabetic shoes and socks that are specially designed to address any particular points of risk you may have with your feet.
Moisturize for Smooth Skin
It can be more common for your skin to dry out during the summer, which can lead to cracking and sores. Place a thin coat of lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet daily to help prevent dryness. A good opportunity to do so is after you come out of the shower and dry off. Your feet tend to be more receptive to moisturizer after a soak, and may have even lost some moisture due to the heat of the shower.
When you do moisturize, do not use an excessive amount of lotion and do not moisturize between your toes. Areas that gather too much moisture can be more susceptible to fungal infections and other skin conditions.
Don’t Forget to Use Sunscreen
Sunburns are a common concern whenever you’re out during the summer, but many people neglect to protect their feet from UV rays.
While sunburn will not be a concern if you are wearing full shoes, you should be careful to guard your feet anytime they will be exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes at a time. Depending on your complexion, the time of day, weather, and other factors, a sunburn can happen in as few as 15 minutes.
Follow the same guidelines for applying sunscreen as you would moisturizer. Apply a thin amount to your feet and avoid letting it accumulate between your toes. Do not wait to apply it right before you are out in the sun; it takes about 30 minutes for the active ingredients to provide full protection of the skin. Reapply at least every 2 hours to keep the effect at its maximum.
Diabetic Foot Care Keeps You Ready to Go
Taking steps to prevent potential foot problems, or addressing them quickly if they arise, will always be the best way to keep you doing the things you love. Diabetes does come with a few restrictions, yes, but nothing that is a fraction as debilitating as not taking good daily care of your feet.
Whether you have an immediate situation or want to ensure your feet are in optimal health, Northwood Foot and Ankle Center pays special attention to the needs of our diabetic patients. Please call (269) 429-7670 to schedule an appointment. If you prefer to reach us electronically, you may also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.