Diabetic Foot Care

Of the sixteen million Americans with diabetes, 25% will develop foot problems related to the disease. Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause sensitivity or the loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the sensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulcerations and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as bunions, hammer toes, and charcot feet.

It’s very important for diabetics to take the necessary precautions to prevent all foot related injuries. Due to the consequences of neuropathy, daily observation of the feet is critical. When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative footcare measures, it greatly reduces the risks of serious foot conditions.

Do’s

  • Inspect your feet daily for blisters, cuts, and scratches. The use of a mirror can aid in seeing the bottom of your feet. Always check between your toes.
  • Wash you feet daily. Dry carefully, especially between your toes.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Test water with your hands or elbow before bathing.
  • If your feet feel cold at night, wear socks.
  • Inspect the insides of your shoes daily for foreign objects, nail points, torn linings, and rough areas.
  • For dry feet, use a very thin coat of lubricating oil such as baby oil. Apply this after bathing and drying your feet.
  • Shoes should be fitted by a orthotist (footcare specialist) and be comfortable at the time of purchase.
  • Shoes should be made with leather.
  • In the winter months take special precautions. Wear wool socks and protective foot gear, such as fleece lined boots.
  • Cut your nails straight across.
  • See your physician regularly and be sure to have your feet examined at each visit.

Don’ts

  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t apply hot water bottles or heating pads.
  • Don’t soak your feet in hot water.
  • Don’t walk on hot surfaces such as sandy beaches or on the cement around swimming pools.
  • Don’t walk barefooted.
  • Don’t use chemical agents for the removal of corns and calluses.
  • Don’t use strong antiseptic solutions on your feet.
  • Don’t use adhesive tape on your feet.
  • Don’t wear mended stockings and avoid stockings with seams.
  • Don’t use oil or cream between your toes.
  • Don’t wear shoes without stockings.
  • Don’t wear sandals with thongs between the toes.
  • Don’t cut corns or calluses; see your physician.
  • Don’t cross your legs. This can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels.

Diabetic Footcare Tips

  • Did you know that Medicare covers extra depth footwear for diabetic patients? Ask your doctor if you qualify for special shoes covered by Medicare.
  • Wear socks that fit you properly. Choose socks that are made of cotton or wool. Be cautious not to wear socks that are too tight as they can cut off circulation to the feet.
  • Place protective slippers or shoes right beside your bed to wear as soon as you get out of bed to avoid walking barefooted.
  • The best time to trim toenails is after bathing. The nails are softer and easier to trim at that time. Cut your toenails straight across and not too short. Don’t cut into the corners of your nails. Consult a doctor if your nails are too thick and difficult to cut.
  • Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. This increases the blood flow to your feet.