Diabetics need to take special care and give attention to their bodies, especially their feet. Small cuts and wounds are more vulnerable to infection to those with diabetes because diabetes causes damage to nerves and reduces the circulation of blood to the feet. Small injuries can turn into even larger complications because of this increased risk for diabetics. You can develop a sore or a blister that could lead to an infection and possibly lose a toe, foot, or even your leg as a result.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that 1 out of 5 people with diabetes will eventually go to the hospital to seek care for foot problems and injuries, but there are many preventative measures you can take to keep your feet healthy. Daily foot care for diabetics is essential to keep unwanted complications at bay.
Inspect feet daily
Take a close look at your feet every day to keep track of any scrapes, cuts, dry skin, or bruises. Placing a mirror on the floor and looking at your feet from below will make it easier to see every square inch. If you see anything out of the ordinary, contact your provider.
Wash feet gently
Make it a nightly ritual and give yourself a warm foot bath. Keeping your feet clean will ensure that any infection-prone areas remain free of dirt and debris. Remember to not use water that is too hot, as this could damage your skin. Follow the suggestion of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and use a soft washcloth or sponge to wash your feet.
Neuropathy is a common foot problem for diabetics that disables the nerves in your feet so the brain doesn't receive the signal to moisturize the skin with sweat. Use a gentle moisturizer after you wash to soothe any cracks on the feet.
Keep your feet dry
After your foot bath, be sure to dry your feet thoroughly. Check between the toes for any leftover moisture that could cause fungus to grow on the foot. Water that is left between the toes breaks down the skin and can cause infection. Also, make sure to apply moisturizer to cracked areas only and away from the toes.
This also goes for sweaty gym socks and shoes—remove them right away to prevent infection!
Wear diabetes-friendly socks and shoes
Nerve damage can also cause changes to the shape of your feet, which can make shoes you used to love hard to walk in. Support your feet with socks and shoes made for diabetics. Look for shoes that have plenty of room in the toes, good coverage to protect both top and bottom of the foot from the elements, and nothing with seams inside the shoe that can rub your foot.
The same goes for socks; no seams and are made of a breathable fabric like cotton. Keep these tips in mind the next time you go shoe shopping so that your new shoes don’t end up unused in the back of your closet.
Low impact exercise
Regular exercise is essential for overall health, but if you’re diabetic, be mindful of fitness classes and aerobics programs that include bouncing, jumping, and leaping, which may not be good for your feet. Walking and swimming are some low impact exercises you should try for diabetes foot health.
Don’t go barefoot
It’s important that you never go without shoes, be it inside or out. Wear slippers indoors to protect your feet from getting any cuts or scratches from things laying around the house, like splinters, glass shards, or a fallen sewing needle or thumbtack. It’s best to wear shoes at all times, even in the house.
The most important foot care tip for diabetics is to manage your diabetes in general. Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is key in preventing complications, such as neuropathy. Make these tips part of your routine and set aside a few minutes each day to check your feet. Make it relaxing so you look forward to your own personal foot spa every day!
Keep up with your appointments at Voyage Healthcare
It’s important to keep up with foot care to continue to live a healthy and active life. If you are experiencing any diabetic foot care complications, be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Podiatrists who are experts in their field and are ready to help get you back on your feet as soon as possible.