According to the American Diabetes Association, 9.3% of Americans have diabetes, a disease affecting the way the human body processes glucose. Over an extended period of time, high glucose levels can damage the nervous system, reducing sensation in the feet.
Due to the suppression of the immune response and reduced blood flow to the feet in diabetics, the body may be unable to heal wounds you suffer to your feet. As sensation has already been reduced, if you aren’t checking your feet regularly, you may not realize your feet are injured until it’s too late. If left untreated, bacterial infections can lead to gangrene, which may require amputation to ensure that the infection does not spread to other parts of the body.
What Can I Do?
There are some simple precautions you can take to keep your feet healthy as a diabetic.
- Check your feet daily.
- Keep your diabetes under control.
- Wash your feet daily.
- Keep your feet moisturized (but no lotion between the toes, as moisture here can create conditions friendly to fungal infection).
- Encourage circulation in your feet by wiggling your toes and changing positions regularly.
- Meet regularly with your trusted podiatrist.
If you suffer from diabetes, it is crucial that you ensure foot health by working with your podiatrist to reduce the likelihood of infection and quickly treat any infection that arises. Contact us today to learn how we can help you protect your feet for a lifetime.
For the Patient with Diabetes
Many symptoms of diabetes occur ﬁrst in the feet and Podiatrists are often the first to discover diabetes in patients. Common diabetic foot problems include infection, ulcers, poor circulation, neuropathy, nail fungus and foot deformities which place the patient at a greater risk of infection. Loss of feeling, coldness, numbness, pain, blisters or sores may be signs that your diabetes is out of control. Patients with diabetes who get corns, calluses and bunions have an increased risk for getting foot ulcers and wounds that heal slowly or lead to infection. In order to avoid foot problems, careful control of your diabetes is the key.
Foot care tips for patients with diabetes
- The following is a list of some helpful foot care tips for patients with diabetes.
- Inspect your feet daily for any changes or breaks in the skin.
- Use a hand mirror or ask someone else to check them if you can’t see the bottom of your feet.
- Call your podiatrist if you notice signs of redness, swelling or inﬂammation, pain, infection, broken skin, and numbness or tingling in any area of the foot.
- Red streaks on the skin may indicate internal infection whereas pale or blue skin may indicate poor circulation. Also, mention if you notice any areas that are hot or cold to the touch.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control and be sure to follow your doctors advice on diet, exercise and medication.
- Wash your feet daily with mild soap in lukewarm water using a washcloth or very soft brush. (Check water temperature with your hand or elbow first).
- Dry your feet well, especially between your toes. Use a soft towel and blot gently. Do not rub.
- Keep the skin of your feet smooth by applying a cream or lotion, especially on the heels.
- If your feet sweat easily, keep them dry by using a non-medicated powder before putting on shoes and socks.
- Wear well-padded socks or stockings that fit properly. Do not wear socks with rough inside seams.
- When you buy new shoes, choose those made of soft leather. They should not fit tightly.
- Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are a little swollen to get the best tit.
- lf you have problems finding shoes that fit well, you may want to be fitted for a custom-molded shoe with a high toe box. Foot Centers offers extra depth diabetic footwear with therapeutic insoles in a wide variety of styles to choose from.
- Break in new shoes slowly and carefully. Have at least two pairs of shoes so you don’t wear the same pair everyday.
- Inspect your shoes daily for gravel, torn linings or other irritants.
- Avoid wearing girdles, garters or any garment that may inhibit blood flow to your feet.
- Keep your feet warm and avoid walking on or touching surfaces that are very hot or very cold.
- Have your podiatrist look at your feet at least once every year or whenever you notice anything that doesn’t seem right.
Recommendations for the Diabetic Foot
Early detection of potential problems will allow your doctor to treat them early and keep you on your feet.
- Do not trim your own nails or use other instruments to cut corns or calluses. Let your podiatrist perform this task due to the risk of developing ingrown nails and infection.
- Do not use over the counter medication for corns or warts. Some of these products contain acid which may contribute to further complications including infection.
- Don’t soak your feet in water.
- Don’t place your feet in hot water or use a heating pad or massage equipment on your feet.
- Never go barefoot; a minor cut or scratch that goes unnoticed could lead to a serious infection.
- Don’t use adhesive tape or chemicals on the skin of your feet.
- Don’t put over the counter inserts or pads in your shoes without your podiatrist‘s advice.
- Don’t walk in wet or damp shoes.
- Don’t wear shoes or sandals with cutouts in the leather.
- Don’t wear shoes that are uncomfortable or rub. You could end up with a blister on your feet.
- Don’t wear shoes without socks. White cotton socks are recommended.
- Don’t use any tobacco products-smoking or the use of tobacco affects blood flow in ways that are especially dangerous for patients with diabetes.
- Avoid weight gain to minimize the pressure on your feet AND help keep your diabetes under control.