As temperatures rise in the summer, people with diabetes need to pay extra careful attention to foot health. Diabetes can increase the risk of possible complications. Warmer weather, trips to the pool, and open-toed footwear can pose more challenges. With diligent foot care and the right precautions, diabetics can happily enjoy the summer season with loved ones. 

There’s no off-season for maintaining proper foot health care. Getting your feet sandal-ready for the summer means taking smart steps even before heading out the door. Explore the following tips and guidelines for summer foot health tips for people with diabetes to enjoy healthy and happy feet. Helpful Summer Foot Health Tips for People With Diabetes

Tips to Stay Safe This Summer

With a diabetes diagnosis, people need to carefully monitor their blood sugar levels. Whether or not you’re insulin-dependent, foot care is also important, too. A proactive approach to diabetic foot care is best.

Reduce the risk of future complications by heeding the following advice for summer foot care. 

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Be sun smart. While many people know they should apply sunscreen during the summer, they can often overlook their feet. Since your feet are likely covered in socks and shoes the rest of the year, they can burn quickly under the summer sun. This is especially true for the tops and bottoms of your feet, as well as ankles. Put on sunscreen about 20 minutes before going outside. And, remember to reapply after going in the water. 

Don’t Go Barefoot

If reasonably possible, diabetics should avoid going barefoot and instead wear comfortable socks and shoes at all times. Socks shouldn’t be too tight and ideally, be made from breathable, moisture-wicking material. 

It’s important to avoid being outdoors in bare feet because: 

  • You need to reduce the risk of cuts and other wounds. 
  • Stepping on rocks and other debris can wound the feet.
  • Walking across hot asphalt may cause thermal burns. 
  • Stubbing your toe often results in foot ulcers. 

As a diabetic, any of these injuries can lead to more serious concerns. Diabetic socks and shoes have a lot of benefits. Water shoes are a good choice for the pool or beach. If you wear sandals, choose a pair with good support.

Pack a Pair of Shower Shoes

The warm, damp environment of public areas such as locker rooms and swimming pools create a high risk of fungal infection and plantar warts. These types of infections can be especially harmful to people with diabetes, as the wounds are slow to heal. Left untreated, amputation may be needed. So always wear shower shoes or flip-flops.

Moisturize Dry Feet

Sun exposure, soaring temperatures, and low humidity can all contribute to dry feet. So can aging and skin conditions like eczema. It’s good practice to moisturize your feet, especially after a bath or a shower. Dry feet can flake and crack, setting the stage for foot fungus and other infections. Cracked heels are of particular concern. 

Be mindful when choosing foot creams and lotions. Some products have hidden ingredients, like alcohol, which make feet even drier. It’s a good idea to consult a skilled podiatrist for product recommendations. Apply a daily moisturizer, but not between your toes. You may choose to wear socks to bed after moisturizing, too. 

Treat Sweaty Feet

Similar to protecting your feet from fungal environments such as locker rooms and public pools, it’s important to treat sweaty feet, too. Moist feet are more prone to athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. Feet can blister and smell, and become itchy, inflamed, or scaly. 

To avoid this, remember to keep your feet clean and dry. Be diligent about toweling off your feet after a shower or swimming, and change out of sweaty or wet socks as soon as possible. Wear shoes and socks that are breathable and wick moisture. This helps to reduce the risk of toenail fungus, too. A podiatrist can suggest powders and antiperspirants that may help. 

Stay Hydrated

During the heat of the summer, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Your body needs plenty of water to survive and thrive. In terms of diabetic foot care, proper hydration can help reduce foot swelling from heat or exercise. Dehydration also hampers circulation, which is another big concern. 

See Your Podiatrist for More Summer Foot Health Tips for People With Diabetes

From visiting the beach to strolling through the park or taking a dip in the pool, it’s great to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Just always remember to stay up-to-date with your diabetic foot exams and checkups, and check your feet regularly for blisters and sores.

It’s vital to see your podiatrist regularly. We can assess your vascular, nerve, and skin health, and prepare you for a fun and healthful summer season. We can also identify potential risks early and prevent future problems, so make sure to contact your podiatrist as soon as you see something of concern. They can recommend a treatment plan that is custom-tailored to you and your needs.

Dr. Peyman A. Elison
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Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute