A Few Things To Know About Frostnip And Frostbite When You Have Diabetes

You may love winter and sports such as skiing or snowboarding, or you may hate everything about cold weather. Love it or hate it, winter presents potential danger for your feet in the form of frostbite. You're at a higher risk of frostbite when you have diabetes or another condition that impairs your circulation. Your feet may be at greater risk when you live in a warm climate and visit a cold climate on vacation if you don't understand how to protect your feet properly. Even experienced winter athletes can experience frostbite in the right conditions, so it's something to be aware of, prevent, and get treated promptly. Here are important things to know about frostbite and diabetes.

Get Medical Care

If you have diabetes or a condition that affects your circulation or sensation in your feet, it's important to get medical care for potential frostbite, even if you think you don't need it. The blood needs to flow through your tissues to restore warmth and nourishment and stop the destruction caused by cold temperatures. A podiatrist can advise you on the right treatment when you have diabetes since your feet may need special care. When you have a mild case of frostnip, it's best to warm your feet gradually in mildly warm water, but when you have poor sensation in your feet, you might use water that's too hot, so you need to be careful with self-treatments.

A moderate or advanced case of frostbite can cause ulcers that get infected, which can be serious when you have diabetes. Tissue death could even require amputation. For these reasons, it's important to get a medical evaluation when your feet show signs of frostnip or frostbite so you can get treatment right away if it's needed. If your feet were exposed to very cold temperatures and the risk of frostbite is certain, then getting emergency treatment is better than trying to restore circulation yourself with warm water.

Watch For Delayed Tissue Death And Slow Healing

Tissue damage from frostbite doesn't always happen right away. It often takes time for tissue to slowly die and for blisters and ulcers to heal. You may not know how the exposure to the cold temperatures will affect your feet until time has passed. This is partly because diabetes slows down healing, and there's a race between ongoing tissue death and tissue regeneration. You might be hospitalized for exposure to cold and potential frostbite when you have diabetes, but if you're not, your podiatrist might want to see you frequently to check on your healing process.

Protect Your Feet During The Winter Months

Foot protection is essential when you have diabetes, no matter the season, but the winter requires extra precautions. Keeping your feet dry when you're outdoors is important since wet feet get frostbitten sooner than dry feet. You might need to wear boots when you go outdoors to eliminate the risk of your shoes and socks getting wet. In addition, you'll want to wear socks that keep your feet as warm as possible while wicking away sweat. It may even be necessary to stay indoors when the temperature outside is cold enough to pose a risk to your feet.

To learn more about taking care of your feet in the cold weather, contact a podiatrist in your area.