Diabetes and Cellulitis

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Image Credit: WebMD 

Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.”-  Ann Wigmore

What is cellulitis?

Diabetes is just a word, not a sentence to a miserable life. While the treatment can be potentially dangerous, as a patient, you can actually look at it as a means to improve your ability to take care of yourself. Studies have shown that stress induces illness, so if you put yourself in a situation where you reverse the root causes of your conditions, you will heal. The interesting thing about diabetes is that it induces various downstream conditions, and with the suppressed immune system can make the body prone to attack by viruses and bacteria. One such condition that the diabetic can be prone to is cellulitis. 

As a painful bacterial skin infection, cellulitis appears as a flash of red on the skin. The picture above depicts the initial phases, of the condition. If untreated, the area can actually become infected and develop into a sore. The underlying tissues of the skin, lymph nodes and the bloodstream can be affected by the condition. 

What are the symptoms of cellulitis? 

  1. Redness of the skin

  2. Warm, tender skin

  3. Sore or inflamed skin

  4. Fever

Additional immune related symptoms have been identified. It will be important for doctors to be aware of your symptoms because if not treated, the symptoms can adversely affect the body. Antibiotics are the best therapy for the condition. Proper foot care is critical for the prevention of cellulitis, as the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria that induce this condition, can enter the skin via cracks in the skin. Interestingly the following are the root causes of cracks in the skin:

  • Cuts - induced by every day living. Ensure that there are no small stones in your shoes for instance, so that the occurence of cuts and bruises can be prevented. By all means, ensure that you are in a position to always have shoes on hand. Don’t go outside barefooted if you’re a diabetic.

  • Bug bites- induced by every day living. Ensure that you protect your skin if its the summer months. As much as socializing can be fun, outdoor activities can make you prone to bites if you’re a diabetic.

  • surgical wounds - induced by treatment of various root causes. Diabetics are particularly prone to neuropathy. Neuropathy can induce conditions such as Charcot foot, which is treatable by surgical solutions. Surgeries induce cuts into the skin, which can be infected.

Foot Treatments as Preventative Care 

There are a few key activities, which will lead to great foot health. As with all things, prevention is better than cure. The following should be part of your pamper routine if you’re a diabetic: 

  1. Daily Foot Inspection: Take good care, and take the time to inspect your feet at one specified time each day. This could be in the evening once you are getting ready for bed. After your shower, you can take the time to check your feet for any bruises, swelling or ingrown toenails that can affect the health of your feet. A great tool to have is a hand held mirror, so that you can see the base of your feet, and the back of your heels. If you still can’t manage, you can use this as an opportunity to have your partner or your children check for you. 

  2. Lukewarm Baths: The more you nurture yourself, the better you’ll feel and the more that you’ll heal. Warmth improves your blood’s circulation. With a daily wash of your feet, with warm water you facilitate the dilation of your blood vessels, and improved circulation of your blood. This facilitates healing. If you so desire, you can add essential oils to your bath and raise the healing properties of the water. Wash your feet with a soft washcloth, and carefully dry them after your bath. Allow them to air dry. 

  3. Moisturize Your Feet: Your feet have skin as their primary cover. Skin loves and needs moisture in order to heal itself. Use a moisturizer such as Eucerin or Vaseline to keep your skin moisturized and minimize the occurrence of dryness or cracking. Air dry your feet to minimize fungal infections. 

  4. Adequate Foot Care: This is the time of your life, where pedicures should be a standard. When you’re cutting your nails, ensure that they are cut straight and filed. Do what you can to minimize the occurrence of ingrown toenails, because the induced cuts can lead to ulcers. If you see a cut or wound, see your doctor. 

  5. Wear Diabetic Socks: With added cushions, these are special socks that will help you to keep the socks clean and dry. When it comes to your footcare, check your shoes carefully to ensure that there is nothing inside them before you wear them. Since such objects can cut the feet, it is critical to ensure that the feet are protected in their shoes. 

  6. Keep Your Feet Clean and Dry: As strange as it may seem, an antiperspirant on your feet will keep them dry. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great start to your diabetic foot care. As with all medical conditions, do consult with your orthopaedic surgeon, in order to ensure that you are getting the appropriate care. Your health is your wealth! 

References: 

  1. Diabetes Footcare Guidelines: https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/diabetic-foot-care-guidelines

  2. Cellulitis: https://www.healthline.com/health/cellulitis#vs.-dvt

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