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Diabetes: 5 Steps to Total Body Care

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5 Steps to Total Diabetes Body Care continued...

Prevention tips: Make time for foot care daily. Wash, dry and examine the tops and bottoms of your feet. Check for cracked skin, cuts, scratches, wounds, blisters, redness, calluses, and other changes. Use antibiotic creams recommended by your doctor and apply sterile bandages to protect cuts. Prevent ingrown toenails by cutting toenails straight across; don't cut corners. Don't go barefoot and always protect your feet. Make sure you wear properly fitting footwear.

If you develop even minor foot problems, treat them right away or see a doctor. And see a foot doctor (podiatrist) every two or three months.

Checking your feet daily means you can catch small things and get them treated before they become serious. Make it part of your daily morning routine -- it doesn't take long.

2. Skin Care and Diabetes

Bacterial infections, fungal infections, and itching are common skin problems anyone can develop, but they're especially problematic for people with diabetes because of poor blood flow and because the body may not be fighting infection well. Avoid extremely serious complications. Don't ignore these problems:

  • Bacterial infections like boils (hair follicle infections) require antibiotic treatment.
  • Fungal infections include the yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans, which often occurs in warm, moist folds of the skin: under the breasts, around the nails, between fingers and toes, and in the armpit and groin areas.
    • Jock itch(in the genitals and thighs), athlete's foot (between the toes), ringworm (on the feet, groin, chest, abdomen, scalp, and nails) and vaginal infections are very common when blood sugar isn't controlled. These may require treatment with prescription medications, though occasional over-the-counter antifungal treatments may work.
    • A fungal infection called mucormycosis (contracted from soil fungus and decaying plants) can become extremely serious, especially for those with out of control type 2 diabetes. It may start as a sinus infection that gets worse, and can spread to the lungs and brain. Symptoms are sinus infection, fever, eye swelling, skin redness over the sinus area; occasionally ulceration can occur with drainage. See a doctor immediately; this can be life-threatening.
  • Itching caused by dry skin, a yeast infection, or poor blood flow (in the legs especially) is often a result of diabetes. Using lotion or creams can provide relief.
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