(ARA) - With winter just a few
weeks away many people are starting to feel the itchy effects
of dry skin, but for people with diabetes, dry skin is not simply
a minor annoyance -- it may lead to more serious complications
if not properly treated.
Severe dry skin may result in
deep and painful cracks in the skin's surface, especially in
percent of people with diabetes suffer from a complication called
neuropathy, or nerve damage, and may not be able to feel those
painful cracks on the soles of their feet. Left untreated, wounds
may become infected and create greater complications.
More than 16 million
Americans have diabetes, and each year more than 86,000 of them
have amputations resulting from foot ulcers or chronic wounds,
many of which begin as a small cut or blister.
that nearly 50 percent of amputations may have been prevented
through a combination of awareness, prevention and intervention.
diabetes have the opportunity to significantly improve their
condition by taking proactive measures to care for themselves,"
says Dr. Maria G. Dill, regional medical director for Curative
Health Services and medical director at the Valley Baptist Wound
Care Center in Harlingen, Texas. "Simple steps can be taken
to prevent complications from arising."
The following preventive
measures may help people avoid or minimize the severity of injuries,
sores and infections to their feet:
Never walk barefoot.
Check feet every
day for injury.
Wash feet daily
in warm, soapy water.
Moisturize the soles
of feet with unscented lotion immediately after bathing.
Avoid scented lotions,
as they contain alcohol that may dry the feet.
Check shoes to make
sure they are free of stones and sharp or lumpy objects, like
a child's toy.
Wear loose socks
in bed if feet are cold -- do not use hot water or heating pads
to warm cold feet.
Make regular visits
to a podiatrist.
Without proper treatment,
injuries caused by neuropathy may become serious wound problems,
resulting in chronic infections, gangrene and possibly amputation.
More than 6 million people in the United States suffer from chronic
wounds, which are commonly defined as wounds that show little
or no improvement after four weeks of best practices, or do not
progress toward healing in eight weeks. Curative Health Services
(Nasdaq: CURE) operates a national network of more than 100 Wound
Care Centers(R), which follow an interdisciplinary approach when
treating patients suffering from chronic wounds. Nutrition, wound
prevention, and education play key roles in all treatment plans.
The program has healed more patients with chronic wounds than
any other wound specialty program, and consistently averages
a 90 percent patient satisfaction rate throughout the nation.
If non-healing foot
ulcers occur, consult with a physician. For more information
about foot care tips for people with diabetes or treatment for
non-healing wounds, call the nearest Wound Care Center at (800)