If you have diabetes, it’s important to take care of your feet to avoid infections, injuries and amputation. Many people with diabetes have nerve damage in their feet so they don’t know when they have a cut or an injury. Diabetes makes it difficult for wounds and infections to heal.
Thankfully, you can lower your risk for feet problems by taking good care of them and managing your blood sugar levels.
Follow these 8 steps to keep your feet healthy:
Check your feet daily. Some people have foot problems but never feel any pain. Check your feet for cuts, sores, swelling, blisters, ingrown toenails, plantar warts, athlete’s foot and warm spots. Look in between your toes, too. If you have trouble seeing, use a mirror or ask someone to look for you.
Wash your feet every day. You shouldn’t soak your feet but you should wash them with soap in warm water. Don’t use hot water. You can prevent an infection by putting talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes.
Gently smooth corns and calluses. Ask your doctor how to care for corns and calluses. These skin patches can turn into ulcers. Never cut corns and calluses. Do not use medicated pads or liquid corn and callus removers. These products can lead to infection.
Always trim toenails straight across. Although it’s tempting, don’t cut into the corners of your toenail. Trim straight across the top. Use an emery board or nonsharp nail file to smooth each nail.
Ask your doctor to trim your toenails if you can’t see, feel or reach your feet. It’s especially important to seek their help if you have thick toenails or ones that curve and grow into the skin.
Wear shoes and socks at all times. This includes when you’re indoors. Do not walk barefoot or in your socks. When you can’t feel anything, you may not notice if you hurt one of your feet.
Protect your feet from hot and cold temperatures.
Extreme temperatures can damage your feet. You may not know your feet are burning due to nerve damage. Be sure to wear shoes at the beach. Use sunscreen on your feet. Keep your feet away from open fires and heaters. Never place a hot water bottle or heating pad on your feet.
Maintain good blood circulation to your feet.
You can help keep your feet healthy by making sure there’s enough blood flowing to them. Go ahead and put your feet up when you’re sitting. Wiggle your toes throughout the day. Rotate your ankles. Avoid tight socks and stockings. Exercise. Quit smoking.
Always have your feet checked when you’re at the doctor’s office.
When you enter an exam room, go ahead and take off your shoes and socks. This way, you and your doctor won’t forget to check your feet. Once a year, you should have a thorough foot exam. You may need a foot exam more often if you have changes in the shape of your foot, numbness, foot ulcers, previous amputation or peripheral arterial disease.
See your specialist if you have a cut or bruise that isn’t healing, painful areas that become red or warm, a callus with dried blood inside it or any foot infection.
Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
At Virginia Orthopaedic and Spine Specialists, we’re committed to patient care. Our specialists treat foot infections and tissue and nerve damage brought on by diabetes. Thanks to our association with Bon Secours Hampton Roads, we can provide a full continuum of care that works with your current diabetic treatments.