Summer is a time for fun in the sun and taking long walks which can lead to summer maladies such as Lyme disease, sunburn and poison ivy, oak and sumac. Learn how to handle these common maladies when you have diabetes.
- Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads from the bite of an infected deer tick. When the infected tick bites, it passes Lyme disease to humans. These bacteria can pass into the blood and later settle into certain body tissues. People with immune deficiencies including diabetes are more susceptible to infections. Deer ticks mostly reside in northern areas of the country. Gardening, walking, hiking and camping can expose people to deer ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a red rash with an oval shape or bull’s eye appearance, joint and muscle aches, fatigue, swollen glands and fever. Lyme disease can result in serious health issues if untreated. A diagnosis of Lyme disease can be made based on your symptoms and a blood test that detects certain antibodies. Antibiotics are often administered to combat Lyme disease by killing bacteria. Steroids might be injected into the joints, which can lead to blood sugar fluctuations. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, might be administered by a doctor to reduce inflammation.
- It is wise to try to prevent Lyme disease by avoiding woody, moist areas. When going into these areas, wear a long sleeve shirt and pants, enclosed shoes and a hat. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks, walk on cleared paths and avoid sitting on the ground. After you have been outdoors, check your body, hair and clothing for ticks. If you find one, use tweezers to grasp it by the head and pull it directly outward. Never twist the tick, crush it or touch with bare fingers. Wipe with antiseptic to prevent infection. If you are unable to properly remove the tick, visit a doctor immediately.
- Another summer malady people can be exposed to is poison ivy, oak and sumac when in a wooded area. Getting near these plants by touching or brushing against them can cause contact dermatitis, including a red, itchy rash. A rash can occur from touching anything that has come in contact with these plants, including pet fur, gardening tools, clothing and sporting gear. Your immune system may react with an itchy rash, red streaks, small bumps and fluid-filled blisters. More severe symptoms include swelling of the face, neck, mouth and genitals, swollen eyelids and large blisters. It can take about a week for the rash to appear and it can last up to 3 weeks or longer.
- To treat poison ivy, oak and sumac, soak the area in cool water or apply a wet cloth soaked in cool water or milk. Relieve itching by applying calamine lotion. Topical antihistamines, anesthetics and antibiotics might be administered as well as a corticosteroid cream. All of these topical remedies can cause blood sugar levels to soar. Discuss them with your doctor first and monitor your blood sugar regularly. To prevent poison ivy, oak and sumac know what the plants look like to avoid contact. If you make contact, wash your skin within 15 minutes with mild soap and warm water and wash your clothes right away with isopropyl alcohol and water. Wear long pants, closed shoes and long sleeves when you are in wooded areas. Put on vinyl gloves while gardening or handling outdoor plants.
- Too much sun can lead to sunburn, injuring your skin. As the skin heals, your body is under stress which can cause increased blood sugar levels. To avoid sunburn, wear light, breathable SPF clothing, closed shoes and a hat with sunglasses. Apply a waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30+ as well as a SPF lip balm. Remember to put sunscreen on the tops of your ears and feet.
- If you do get sunburn, apply cool compresses to the burned areas. Aloe vera can help cool the skin and relieve the burn. Talk to your doctor about taking an oral anti-inflammatory and applying a low dose hydrocortisone ointment for severe burns. Monitor your blood sugar. Also contact your doctor if blisters or sores form, as this can lead to a skin infection.
Summer is the season for an array of skin maladies and prevention is the best cure. Keep plenty of wound care products on-hand in case you do get one of these summer problems. Taking steps to avoid them ensures you can enjoy the rest of the lazy days of summer!