Incorporating These Diabetic Foot Care Tips Will Prevent Complications
Diabetic foot care is very important because you are more likely to have foot problems because you have diabetes. Diabetes damages the nerves and makes it less likely that you will feel pain. As a result, you are more likely to injure your foot or not notice a problem until the foot has been damaged.When your doctor does a foot evaluation as part of your diabetic foot care they will look for signs of:
- poor circulation
- nerve damage (decreased sensation of the foot)
- skin changes
- deformities of the foot and toes
Specific Diabetic Foot Care Tips
These 11 tips will help you improve your diabetic foot care:
1. Check Your Feet Daily. Because diabetes decreases sensitivity in your feet, you may not realize that you have an ulcer or abrasion. Make sure you examine all aspects of your foot- start on top and then look at the sides, soles, heels, and between the toes. Make checking your feet part of your daily diabetic foot care plan.
2. Don’t Go Barefoot. One of the easiest diabetic foot care tips is to avoid going barefoot, even indoors. Because you may have poor vision and decreased sensation in your feet, you are at greater risk of injury. It is very easy to stub your toe or step on something and cut your foot.
Wearing shoes all the time will protect your feet from developing a diabetic foot problem. Make sure your shoes do not have any rough edges that could cause irritation and also wear socks for extra protection. Wear comfortable fitting shoes that are not tight on your feet. Make sure you choose shoes that are made of a breathable material such as leather or canvas. Finally, changing shoes or taking them off after several hours decrease pressure and chances of developing an ulcer.
3. Watch For Calluses. If you have calluses or corns, talk with your doctor about appropriate diabetic foot care. Do not just take a file or treat the corn yourself.
4. Wash Your Feet Daily. Using a mild soap and lukewarm water, you should wash your feet daily. Hot water and strong soaps can damage your foot. Drying your feet is also an important part of your routine diabetic foot care. If you don not dry well, you may develop infections in moist areas like between your toes. If your feet are dry and cracked, use lotion to moisturize your feet, but avoid any areas of cracked skin.
5. Get An Annual Foot Exam. The final piece of your diabetic foot care plan is to get a yearly exam by your doctor. During this exam your doctor will test to see if you have lost any sensation and look for any problems.
6. Quit Smoking. Smoking increases your risk of heart attack and stroke as well as lead to vascular problems that result in decreased blood flow.
7. Ask For Foot Exams. Your foot exam is am important part of your diabetic plan. This exam should be part of your regular healthcare visits, but can sometimes get left out, especially if you have a number of medical problems. You should have a diabetic foot care visit at least once per year- more often if you have any complaints or problems with your feet.
8. Choose Shoes and Socks Wisely. Shoes should be comfortable, not too tight or too loose, and broken in slowly to prevent blisters. Your diabetic foot care plan should always include socks- cotton and loose fitting. Certain patients may also benefit from specialized, custom shoes. Patients with abnormally shaped feet or those with ulcers are most likely to benefit. Additionally, special insoles can decrease pressure on the soles and bottom of the feet.
9. Protect Your Feet From Temperature Extremes. Never walk barefoot- whether at the beach or in the mountains. Before putting your feet in water make sure you test the temperature, much like you would do when bathing a baby. Do not use heating pads, electric blankets, or hot water bottles as you can quickly burn your feet.
10. Keep Your Circulation Going. Wiggling your toes increases blood flow to the feet. Doing this several times per day while flexing your ankle back and forth keeps blood flowing to your foot/ ankle area. You can also sit with your legs straight and make circles with your feet to promote blood flow in the foot/ ankle area. Ask your significant other for or treat yourself to a foot massage- his also increases blood flow to your feet. Additionally you want to avoid crossing your legs as this decrease blood flow to the heart.
11. Use Foot Cream. This will help keep your feet soft and smooth. Cracks on the skin increase your risk for infection. If you have a cut or skin damage, make sure you get treatment right away.
NIDDK. Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your feet and skin healthy. Accessed January 30, 2013.