Happy New Year!
One month has already flown by and it’s a great time to check in on how we are doing for our new year’s resolutions. Let us help remind you how to resolve to remain wound FREE in this new year.
If you have experienced a wound in the past on you or someone you care for, think very particularly about the following things to stay away from the wound care clinic.
Respect and inspect your skin!
Make a checklist for treating your skin right. This will help you in noticing any abnormalities that may come up. Use a mirror to look at the bottom of your feet. Look between your toes and over all the boney areas where you may develop cracks or fissures.
- Use a good moisturizer on your skin, especially in the dry winter months.
- Bring any calluses to the attention of your medical team. They are a sign of pressure and friction and can eventually lead to a wound. They are NOT protection! Do not attempt to remove them yourself. There may be more than meets the eye.
- Notice any color changes, dark spots, rough spots, or areas that have developed a crust that won’t go away: these may be signs of skin cancer. The Melanoma Research Foundation gives a guideline called “Know your ABCDE’s” in inspecting your skin. Be sure to check it out!
Replace those compression stockings!
If you wear compression stockings to keep your legs (or arms) from swelling, they will wear out! Every 4-6 months is the recommended time to replace them.
(Okay…so that is a LARGE hole!)
Look for signs of their wear:
- Your limb may become more swollen through the day than it did a few months ago
- The stockings become too easy to put on and take off. This may seem like a good thing but it actually means they are losing their strength.
- There may be a run or hole in the stocking:
Renew your footwear!
If you are diabetic or have peripheral neuropathy, go get your shoes right now and take a look at a few things. Use your eyes and your hands to evaluate them. If you can’t see or feel things well, grab your family member or friend to help you.
- Look at the wear pattern on the bottom of your shoes: is the tread still there? Is it even? Are there holes in the sole of your shoe?
- Now take out the insert in the shoe if you have one. Look for any breakdown or thinning of the insert. Look for stains on the insert that might indicate some leaking or drainage from your skin that you might not notice.
- Just like stockings, these inserts need to be replaced regularly. You usually can get new ones annually but you may also be able to get the current ones adjusted if possible. See your orthotist or podiatrist for help on this.
Restart…or Reinvent your Exercise Program
Do you know that our skin health is related directly to how active we are? Our circulation improves when we move our limbs. Muscles ask for increased blood flow and the contraction of muscles then helps to propel venous blood back to the heart. Pressure points are reduced when we move off of them by changing position.
Our bodies are designed for movement. We know that our muscles are strengthened with exercise. Our bones also need muscular activity to maintain their health. It does not have to be a strenuous program of exercise to make important gains. The most vital part is starting and the next most important thing is sticking with it!
As Morgan Freeman stated,
Choose today to make small incremental changes that will make a big difference in your overall health. Better yet, grab a friend or a family member and start together.
I hope we have renewed your resolve for remaining wound free in 2017. There are many measures you can take into your own hands. Now get a move on!
This blog post was written by Robin Carlson, PT CWS
What is PT CWS? Physical Therapist and Certified Wound Specialist