Summertime Fun with Diabetes (Continued)

Sunscreen

SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor." The higher the SPF number, the more sunburn protection the product provides. Remember, sunscreen use alone will not prevent all of the possible harmful effects of the sun. The minimum recommendation is SPF 15. However, if you have fair skin and are prone to burns, you should consider a higher strength like SPF 30 or SPF 45. People with diabetes are often at a greater risk of burns. To be fully protected, you want to use the highest level of protection possible. I often use baby sunscreen to protect my fair skin.

A side note – which has no scientific data to back it up:

I have noticed differences in my own skin since diagnosis with diabetes. It is surprising that now I am much less likely to tan. My skin burns faster and more severely than before diabetes.

Summertime Skin Care*

Sun damage has no barriers. As you consider what type of sunscreen to use, be aware of the following:

  • People with diabetes are especially vulnerable to skin infections. Be very aware of your skin and make sure to have any skin problems evaluated promptly. Because of medications used to treat diabetes, people with the condition should be extra careful and vigilant when using sunscreen. These medications can make one more prone to burns and skin damage. Some of the drugs known to cause photosensitivity include: glyburide, glipizide, tolbutamide, and tolazamide.
  • Protect your skin by using sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) whenever you are outdoors.
  • Remember the effectiveness of a sunscreen is reduced if it is not applied in adequate amounts or if it is washed off, rubbed off, sweated off, or otherwise removed. For maximum effectiveness, apply a sunscreen liberally and re-apply it frequently.
  • It is best to avoid open-toed sandals and, of course, never go barefoot. Remember, with diabetes your feet are extremely sensitive. During the summer, consider wearing water shoes to protect from foot cuts and scrapes caused by rocks, pool floors, or seashells.
  • Moisturize your skin daily. Sun and chlorine from swimming pools can be very drying. Dehydration, another summertime risk, is also drying to the skin. Lanolin-based lotions are best to prevent or relieve, dry skin. Avoid putting lotion between your toes, however, because keeping the area between your toes dry helps prevent fungal infections.

The skin is the most easily infected part of the body, and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) makes it harder for the cells to fight infection. Keeping your skin clean and protecting it from injury will greatly reduce your risk for infection. To enjoy your summer to the fullest, follow these recommendations and avoid skin infections and burns caused by the sun. Diabetes, it is important to note, can cause your body to heal slower.

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Last Modified Date: April 23, 2013

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by Nicole Purcell
I have a friend, M, who has diabetes and never, ever tests her bloodsugar before she gets behind the wheel. This has always worried me about her. On Wednesday, she had a bad accident after passing out behind the wheel. She hit another car head on. I thank the universe that no one was killed, but she and the driver of the other vehicle were both badly injured. She's got a long healing road ahead of her, as does the woman she hit. I was talking about the...