Diabetes Infections: How to Spot the Warning Signs
It's no secret that people who have diabetes are more susceptible to infection than their non-diabetic counterparts. And these infections can come in a variety of forms from styes and boils to foot ulcers and sores. But the good news is, there are ways to lower your risk. One of the most important preventative measures, according to the American Diabetes Association, is watching out for early warning signs of the following infections.
Keep in mind that while preventing infections in their earliest stages is important, you should always consult with your doctor about anything out of the ordinary. Although many infections can be properly remedied by keeping up with proper diabetes medications and guidelines, some require medical treatment. Keeping a close relationship with your doctor and health-care provider is essential to the maintenance of your diabetes.
Common bacterial infections include styes (infections of the eyelid glands), boils (infections of the hair follicles), carbuncles (deep infections of the skin and tissue), and infections around the fingernails. While these infections can affect anyone, those with diabetes are more susceptible.
To prevent these, try to keep skin clean and dry. Avoid extremely hot showers or bubble baths, and be sure to moisturize often. Treat any minor cuts or burns right away with simple soap and water and a mild antibiotic ointment. Good skin care can also help prevent localized itching and fungal infections, both of which are common among diabetes patients.
Certain skin complications can result in splotches or raised bumps on different parts of the body. Some occur as brownish patches that may be mistaken for age spots, while others are yellowish, pea-sized bumps on the back of the hands or buttocks. Most skin infections can be maintained and restored by keeping the diabetes under control. As long as glucose and insulin levels are maintained, skin complications should subside or remain unthreatening. As some skin infections result from obesity, diabetics need to maintain a healthy weight to prevent these and further complications.
Foot Ulcers and Poor Circulation
Foot ulcers occur most commonly on the ball of the foot or under the big toe. Though some cause no pain or discomfort, it's important to see a doctor anytime an ulcer appears. Poor circulation (blood flow) can make feet less able to fight infection and to heal. This often makes the feet cold, and many diabetics burn their feet when trying to warm them because they can't feel the heat due to nerve damageanother common occurrence among diabetics.
To prevent foot complications, be sure to quit smoking. Smoking affects small blood vessels and causes arteries to harden faster, causing decreased blood flow to the feet and making wounds heal more slowly. Diabetic smokers are far more likely to need foot or leg amputations than those who don't smoke. Exercise is also beneficial for poor circulation as it stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes that fit well, and don't walk if you have open sores.
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