You already know that diabetes leads to life-threatening conditions, but the feet are high risk as well. The good news is it is preventable by taking a few precautions. These diabetes foot care tips should help.
Why does diabetes affect feet?
Diabetes can damage the nerves and lower the flow of blood in the body. When diabetes is uncontrolled, and blood sugar levels are high, it can cause nerve damage that numbs pain and temperature sensation. This “sensory diabetic neuropathy” in diabetics heightens the problem if they do not notice it. Patients may not notice sores or cuts on their feet, which may lead to an infection. Nerve damage also limits mobility because the foot muscles do not work normally. Here are nine prevention tips for diabetes foot problems:
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #1
Follow your doctor’s advice regarding diet, exercise and medication. Monitor and watch your blood glucose levels (both fasting and after meals) and try to protect your feet.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #2
Check your feet daily for blisters, sores, corns, calluses, water retention. Daily foot checks are a must when patients have diabetes as well as low blood flow. Diabetes reduces the amount of blood flow to the feet, and this makes it harder for sores to heal.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #3
Here are some bathing and washing foot care tips:
- Wash feet daily with a gentle body wash or soap for sensitive skin and warm water.
- Do not soak feet.
- Dry feet well after a bath, and in between the toes.
- Do not moisturise between the toes.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #4
After a warm shower, smooth and soften hardened areas of the feet using a pumice stone or foot file. Working it in one direction is more effective than rubbing it.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #5
Follow these toenail care tips for ingrown nails:
- Do weekly checks of toenails (or ask someone to).
- Trim toenails straight, without trimming the sides.
- Smooth out edges with a nail file.
- Get monthly pedicures if you can.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #6
Quit smoking, if you do because it worsens blood flow problems.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #7
Wear proper footwear to protect feet:
- Wear shoes that fit.
- Wear socks and tights with soft elastic and made of skin-friendly fabric.
- Wear socks to bed or cover them, if you have cold feet.
- Avoid wearing sandals and walking barefoot.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #8
Keep good blood flow to your feet by following these steps:
- Sit with your feet propped up.
- Wiggle your toes when you can.
- Do foot exercises often, like pointing your toes and circling your feet in both directions.
- Avoid sitting cross-legged for long periods.
Diabetes Foot Care Tip #9
Diabetes patients should visit a foot doctor (podiatrist) annually, even when there are no foot problems. The doctor will examine your feet thoroughly, including these physical examinations:
- Check the tops, soles and in between the toes.
- Check feet pulse and temperature of the feet.
- Check foot sensation, or the lack of it, using a monofilament tool.
- Check skin redness.
When do you contact a doctor?
If the first step is to pay better attention to your health, diet and wellness, then this also includes making an appointment with a diabetes specialist. Your doctor may refer you to a podiatrist, if necessary. Here’s when you must see a doctor when you have:
- Swollen ankles or feet.
- Unusual foot odour.
- Corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, infected toes or athlete’s foot.
- Open sores that do not heal.