Good hygiene is, for most people, second nature. We learn various skills like washing our own hair, brushing our teeth, and shaving as we grow up, and by the time we’re teens, we’ve mostly got it down.
For diabetic adults, however, ordinary grooming activities can come with special concerns. A small cut can become a persistent wound that doesn’t heal, and pampering like a pedicure is often out of the question due to infection risks – yet proper hygiene is even more important for those with diabetes, creating something of a catch-22.
Beyond properly managing your condition by maintaining a healthy diet, regularly checking your blood sugar, and learning how to care for wounds, all diabetics should learn the proper ways to manage daily grooming activities so as to avoid injury or infection. For those with poor wound healing, safety should always be a top priority.
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Brush Up On Oral Hygiene
Diabetes can make you more vulnerable to oral health issues, including gum disease, which makes brushing and flossing twice a day even more important. That’s because, in addition to interfering with blood flow, diabetes can lead to higher levels of sugar in your saliva, increasing the likelihood of cavities. If, while brushing and flossing, you notice any sores in your mouth, it’s important to see your dentist right away.
Get A Smoother Shave
Shaving should be a simple activity, with small cuts being nothing more than minor problems. Diabetics should be very careful when shaving, though, because even small abrasions can take a long time to heal. One way to minimize this risk is by switching to a safety razor, rather than using the more common cartridge razor. Though many people think that the sharper safety razor would be more dangerous, they provide for a smoother shave, so that you don’t have to go over the same area repeatedly, a major cause of irritation.
If you do get a cut while shaving, or even if you get a mild rash, you should clean and bandage the area and change the bandage once a day. Cuts should also be treated with antibacterial ointment and monitored to make sure they’re healing correctly.
Be Friendly With Your Feet
Foot health is a top concern among diabetics because the feet are often the most seriously impacted by diabetic neuropathy – nerve damage leading to loss of sensation. That means that if you do something ordinary, such as stub your toe, you may not feel the full extent of the damage. Shoe insoles for neuropathy have been shown to ease foot pain symptoms by stimulating the nerves and providing cushioning support to areas of pain.
Diabetics are also prone to foot ulcers, due to poor blood flow. With this in mind, diabetic adults are encouraged to inspect their feet daily and keep the sides and soles moisturized to prevent cracking; just be sure not to moisturize between the toes, as the skin there is thinner and more likely to break down.
If you enjoy getting the occasional pedicure at a salon, you should proceed with caution. Talk to your pedicurist in advance to discuss any concerns and bring your own nail kit with you, if possible, to reduce infection risk. Most experts recommend not shaving your legs in the day or two before getting a pedicure, as well, to ensure that you don’t have any cuts on your legs.
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re taking care of all of your hygiene needs as a person with diabetes is to make a routine and make it enjoyable. Buy products you like, such as scented creams or a nicer toothbrush, and try to treat these daily activities like pampering, rather than as a chore.
Done this way, you’re more likely to be compliant and to stay well-groomed and in good health.