Summer 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.
- Adults need the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover their whole body. And be sure to cover all skin that's exposed to the sun. Don't forget about your ears, back of your neck, tops of your feet, and, if you're balding, the top of your head.
- 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 sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors, and reapply every two hours and after swimming.
- When applying sunscreen spray to your child: if you're spraying a child at arm's length, you're probably not giving him or her complete protection from the sun's rays. Aim the spray bottle two to three inches away from the body. It's also important to rub spray sunscreen into the skin for full coverage.
- 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.
- Sunscreen has an expiration date, and it can be less effective if it's past its prime. If you're using the recommended amount of sun block, it's less likely to sit on the shelf long enough to expire. An adult should get around four uses per bottle.
- 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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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...