Maintaining your exercise routine during winter is important to reducing the risk of diabetic foot ulcers.

During the cold months, people with diabetes must pay special attention to their feet in order to ensure healthy function and reduce the risk of diabetic foot ulcers. Winter brings on additional risks to the feet – the cold can enhance numbness, exasperating the lack of feeling in the lower extremities caused by neuropathy. This can cause unsteadiness when walking that may lead to spills, increasing the risk of injury, and can make it difficult to realize when a sore or blister has developed. If left untreated, such wounds can become infected and, in severe cases, require amputation.

With that in mind, diabetics should implement special measures to maintain the health of their feet during winter, such as with these simple tips:

Keep your feet warm and dry

Snowy conditions can lead to moisture in the shoes that can become a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria. Make sure your footwear is waterproof to keep your feet dry. Additionally, the cold can enhance numbness in the feet, a complication that already affects many people with this metabolic condition. Keep your feet toasty with the right socks: diabetic thermal socks are designed to keep your feet warm while absorbing moisture to defend against bacteria, and they’re made to improve blood flow through the extremities.

Moisturize your feet

While keeping your shoes dry to minimize bacteria is important, you should avoid allowing your feet to become too dry.

“Dry winter heat, like sitting in the car with the heater blasting at your feet, can make dryness worse and lead to skin break-down,” Dr. Michael Shlonsky, a foot specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Everyday Health. “Watch out for red, shiny areas when you do your daily inspection.”

Moisturizing every day is key to keeping feet smooth, thereby reducing the risk of cracking that can develop into a wound. You can ask your clinician which lotion is best for your condition, then use it each day after bathing or as directed.

Don’t let the cold keep you down

It’s all too easy to stay indoors during winter and neglect your exercise routine due to poor conditions. However, it’s important to stay active during the cold months not only to help you stave off seasonal affective disorder, but also to keep you weight and your diabetes under control. After all, as the American Diabetes Association notes, exercise can help lower blood glucose levels by making your body more sensitive to insulin. In this way, it can help increase blood flow to the limbs, improve sensation and help reduce the risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers.

Rather than holding up inside your home all winter, bundle up get outside and keep up your physical activity regimen, or talk to your clinician about creating an indoor exercise routine that’s right for you.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.