November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so let’s take a few minutes to learn more about better foot care for those living with diabetes.
For someone with diabetes, careful tending to the feet is very important. Even small injuries to the foot such as a minor cut can produce serious consequences. Diabetes may cause nerve damage that can take away the feeling in your feet, making those small injuries go unnoticed. Diabetes may also reduce the blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal injuries or resist infection. An infection or non-healing wound could put you at risk for an amputation. To avoid these serious complication of diabetes follow these guidelines when caring for your feet.
Inspect your feet daily. Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet. Call your doctor if you notice anything.
Wash your feet in lukewarm (not hot) water. Keep your feet clean by washing them daily. Use only lukewarm water – the temperature that you would use on a newborn baby.
Be gentle when bathing your feet. Wash feet with a soft washcloth or sponge. Dry by blotting or patting, and always carefully dry between the toes.
Moisturize your feet – but not between your toes. Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. But DO NOT moisturize between the toes. Doing so could encourage a fungal infection.
Cut nails carefully. Always cut nails straight across and file the edges. Don’t cut nails too short, as this could lead to ingrown toe nails. If you have concerns or questions about your nails, your doctor is a good source of information.
Never treat corns or calluses yourself. Always visit your doctor for treatment.
Wear clean, dry socks. Change them daily.
Avoid the wrong type of socks. Avoid tight elastic bands which can reduce circulation. Don’t wear thick or bulky socks (they can fit poorly and irritate the skin.)
Wear socks to bed. If your feet get cold at night, wear socks. NEVER use a heating pad or hot water bottle.
Shake out your shoes and feel the inside before wearing. Remember, your feet may not be able to feel a pebble or other foreign object, so always inspect your shoes before putting them on.
Keep your feet warm and dry. Don’t let your feet get wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.
Never walk barefoot. Not even at home. Always wear shoes or slippers. You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.
Take care of your diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Don’t smoke. Smoking restricts the blood flow in your feet.
Get periodic foot exams. In addition to daily foot inspections at home, it is important to see your foot and ankle doctor on a regular basis. This will help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.
While feet may not be the prettiest or most popular part of our body, their care plays an important role in our overall health. Take the time to pamper them!