Good foot care is obviously important since your feet carry you where you want to go. But if you’re diabetic then diabetic foot care is especially important, you need to be particularly careful to ensure your feet keep you going.
Not only does diabetes affect your body’s ability to process glucose, but it can diminish blood flow to your feet. If you have whats known as peripheral neuropathy, you may not even be aware of blisters or sores that can quickly become infected.
By making sure you have a good diabetic foot care routine, taking some simple, but important, steps you can insure that your feet will carry you for years to come.
Top Diabetic Foot Care Tips
- Check your feet every day. When you take off your shoes and socks, take a look at your toes, between your toes and the bottoms of your feet. Immediately treat any blisters or open sores.
- Wash your feet with warm water every day. If you have neuropathy, hot water can cause a burn that you may not be able to feel. While a foot soak feels good, soaking too long can delay the healing of existing sores due to diminished blood flow. Dry your feet thoroughly and don’t forget to dry between your toes.
- Wear shoes that fit. If you get any irritation from your shoes, be sure you wear socks or place a cushion over the sore area to prevent further skin damage. When buying new shoes, check for any seams, rough spots or edges that can irritate your foot. Specialist podiatry shoes can be purchased from specialist suppliers.
- Always wear shoes. While going barefoot feels good and lets your feet breathe, diabetics should always wear shoes or slippers. When wearing shoes, always wear socks. While leather shoes allow the feet to breathe, other materials can irritate your skin. Socks should be thick to give toes and heels protection and cushion your feet.
- Dry, cracked skin is common in diabetics. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria and cause infection. Use a lotion made for diabetic skin care daily to keep your skin soft. Keeping your toenails trimmed also minimizes places for bacteria to hide. Using a good quality hard skin remover can help keep callus under control.
- Keep the blood flowing by participating in low-impact exercise such as swimming, yoga and cycling. These activities improve blood flow to your feet and help manage glucose levels. These types of exercise minimize the impact on your feet, while keeping you healthy. When sitting for long periods of time, wiggle your toes or pump your feet to keep the blood moving.
- If you have significant neuropathy, ask for orthotics. The orthotics can support your feet, particularly if you have weakness due to the nerve damage. They can also help improve your gait allowing you to be more mobile.
Pay attention. If you have neuropathy and notice changes, talk to your doctor right away. Changes in the amount of numbness, tingling, or pins-and-needles sensations can indicate decreased blood flow.
- Take your medication. The best way to take care of your feet is to control your blood sugar. A 2006 study showed that strictly controlling your blood sugar, regardless of Type 1 or Type 2, lowered the chances of developing neuropathy by 64 percent**. Aside from controlling blood sugar, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol within acceptable limits and not smoking also help prevent the onset of neuropathy. Not only does taking care of yourself mean healthy feet, it means improved overall health.
- Aside from these tips, see your doctor at least once a year to perform a foot exam, or more often if you have trouble with your feet*. If you have trouble caring for your feet, a podiatrist can help ensure your toenails stay trimmed, care for skin breaks and help with overall foot care.