Good foot care is essential for people with diabetes because this disease can cause nerve damage that reduces feeling in the extremities (hands and feet). It may also reduce blood circulation in the extremities.
This combination means that a small foot injury may go unnoticed and fail to heal. Under these circumstances, a minor nick or blister could fester and become a non-healing wound that might even lead to amputation. In this article, we will provide complete guidelines for effective diabetic foot care. Read on to learn more.
Good Foot Care Is Always Smart
Even if you don’t have diabetes, it pays to take good care of your feet. You only have one pair, and they have a big job to do throughout your life. Once something goes wrong, it can be hard to correct it, even without the looming threat of amputation.
Here are 15 simple steps you can take to keep your feet safe and healthy:
1. Out of sight, out of mind. Give your feet a visual inspection at least once a day. Look for problems with your nails, inflammation, swelling, blisters and cuts. If you have trouble seeing the soles of your feet, use a hand mirror (a magnifying mirror works even better!)
2. Keep your tootsies clean! Wash your feet gently with lukewarm water and a soft sponge or washcloth every day. Avoid hot water because it is easy to burn your feet when you have diabetes. You may have difficulty feeling the temperature of the water.
3. Keep your powder dry. After washing, pat your feet dry with a soft towel. Pay close attention to the area between your toes. Put your feet up and allow them to air dry for a while to avoid the development of athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.
4. Nourish the skin. Use a good moisturizer on your feet, but avoid moisturizing between your toes as this could encourage fungal problems. It’s a good idea to moisturize after washing and also at bedtime. This gives you a second opportunity to examine your feet.
5. Keep your nails tidy. Get a good pair of clippers. Consult your podiatrist regarding the best brand and style. Trim your nails straight across and gently file off sharp corners. Be careful not to cut your toenails too short because this can cause ingrown nails.
6. See your podiatrist regularly. This is especially important if you tend to develop corns and calluses. You should not treat these on your own (with either cutting or medicated pads). Instead, see your podiatrist for professional care.
7. Wear high quality socks. It’s a good idea to purchase socks especially designed for people with diabetes. Your socks should be non-binding, wrinkle free and made of a natural, absorbent material that helps keep your feet dry.
8. Change your socks daily. Dirty socks can irritate your skin and cause fungal and bacterial infection. Be sure to put on a clean pair every day.
9. Avoid heating pads and hot water bottles. Heat producing implements may burn your skin without your realizing it. If your feet get cold while you sleep, put your clean socks on after you moisturize your feet at bedtime.
10. Don’t go barefoot. Wear slippers indoors and high quality, supportive shoes or boots outdoors to avoid injuring your feet.
11. Wear diabetic footwear. It is very important that your shoes fit you well and provide proper support while preventing problems such as calluses and blisters. Specially designed shoes for diabetics offer superior comfort and safety.
12. Examine your shoes or slippers before putting them on. Check to see if there is a pebble, twig or even a spider in your shoe before you slip your foot inside. Shake your shoes out. Diabetic neuropathy may prevent you from feeling a foreign object in your shoe or even a spider bite, so it’s important to inspect your shoes carefully before wearing them.
13. Change out of wet shoes promptly. When you come in from the rain or snow, get out of your wet shoes and socks, wash and dry your feet and change into clean, dry footwear.
14. Reduce sweating. If your socks tend to get sodden because your feet sweat, try applying antiperspirant to the soles.
15. Take good care of yourself from head to toe!
With or without diabetes, your life can be much healthier and more enjoyable if you eat right, exercise regularly and keep your blood sugar levels under control. Avoid smoking as it interferes with blood circulation and generally threatens your health. Be sure to see your doctor on a regular basis and follow his or her advice carefully.