Why diabetes increases burn risk, and tips to stay safe
Burns can happen to anyone, but people with diabetes may be more susceptible than others. In fact, between 10 and 15 percent of patients admitted to our Burn Center have diabetes.
High or unstable blood sugar levels, the hallmark of diabetes, can damage your nerves and blood vessels. This can cause poor circulation, which can leave you feeling cold, particularly your feet.
We often see patients who were burned trying to warm their legs and feet using hot water and heating pads or by propping them up against heaters and radiators. In the summer, we see people who burn their feet walking barefoot on very hot concrete.
Damaged nerves cause you to lose feeling, so you may not be aware you're being burned. And it also leaves your body less able to fight infection and heal from a burn.
Even a small burn can quickly get out of control, and one in 10 patients with diabetes who burn their feet requires amputation. But by following a few simple tips to prevent burns and seeking immediate treatment when one occurs, we can better thwart these types of outcomes.
Tips to prevent burns when you have diabetes
There are a few simple things you can do to avoid burn injuries:
Set a timer when using a heating pad. This will ensure you don’t accidentally leave it on too long or fall asleep with it on. It’s also a good idea to put a piece of cloth/clothing between the pad and your skin.
Avoid sitting too close to a warming device, such as a heater, radiator or fireplace. They can be hotter than you think and cause mild or severe burns.
Check water temperature with a thermometer or your elbow Continue reading