Many people associate summertime activities with barefoot walks on the beach and through the grass, but if you are one of the many people suffering from diabetes, you may want to think twice before doing so. In Rhonda Cornell’s recent article for the Delaware County New Network, she discusses the issue of chronic wounds, and how even the smallest limb injuries can develop into serious problems, especially for anyone struggling with diabetes.
Unlike smaller wounds which heal quickly and predictably, chronic wounds aren’t able to heal completely and usually require medical intervention. The most common victims of chronic wounds are people will which impaired immune systems, including anyone with diabetes. Shockingly enough, one out of every four diabetics develops a chronic wound, and from this group, one out of every five people end up needing a foot amputation. Even non-diabetics can be at risk for chronic wounds, although anyone suffering from a less-than-healthy immune system is particularly at risk.
So why is summer the most dangerous seasons? A lot has to do with the activities listed above. Puncture wounds are only too common when walking through the woods or on the beach. Sandals, while offering a little more protection than going barefoot, still leave huge areas of the foot and ankle exposed. Even laying out and sunbathing can be dangerous, since people often forget — or don’t even realize — that the skin on both the bottom on top of feet can burn, easily causing severe blistering. Higher temperatures and higher humidity levels increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot (which, confusingly enough, doesn’t just apply to athletes); if these infections do not receive immediate medical treatment, serious chronic wounds can develop.
It’s important to remember that the body cannot always attend to every would and injury that is present, especially when another area of the body needs extra attention. For diabetics and other victims of immune-related illnesses, the body has to devote more time to regulating blood sugar levels, causing other issues (like small wounds) to be neglected. Diabetics should not only give their feet and hands extra attention during the summer months — they should also make sure that, if wounds do not appear to be healing, medical treatment is sought. Even the smallest cut or infection can get out of control and have disastrous consequences; there’s no such thing as being too careful when it comes to preventing and treating wounds.