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Diabetes Foot Care

Caring for your feet now can prevent many problems later on

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Updated November 22, 2011

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Diabetes Foot Care

Good diabetes foot care starts with managing your blood sugar.

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Foot problems are common when you have diabetes. One of the complications of diabetes is restricted blood circulation to your feet that can eventually cause damage to the nerves. When this happens you begin to lose the sensitivity in your feet and this can lead to a number of foot-related problems.

The good news is that many of these potential problems with your feet can be prevented. Here are some sound ways to care for your feet when you have diabetes.

Manage your blood sugar

This might not initially seem like a tip for good foot care but it is. Healthy feet begin with good control of your blood sugar. The better your blood glucose control, the healthier your blood vessels and nerves will be.

Check your feet daily

Make a point to look at your feet every day for cuts, swelling, blisters or red spots. These are signs that your shoes or socks may be creating pressure points that could eventually develop into sores. When circulation to the feet is poor, these wounds can be very slow to heal. In severe cases, the wound may not heal at all and could lead to amputation.

Wash your feet daily

Wash your feet every day with lukewarm water and mild soap. Carefully dry your feet, especially between your toes.

Maintain some degree of activity

Being active on a daily basis promotes circulation in your legs and feet. The more circulation, the healthier your nerves, which reduces your risk of permanent nerve damage in your feet.

Keep circulation flowing to your feet when inactive

In addition to being active, you can aid the circulation to your feet by propping your feet up when you are sitting. Wiggling your toes or rotating your ankles also helps. Another important way to keep the circulation moving in your legs is to avoid crossing your legs for any length of time.

Always wear shoes and socks

Though going barefoot can feel nice, it is not a good idea when you have diabetes. A simple cut from stepping on something can lead to a long-term wound that may take months to heal. Get into the habit of looking inside your shoes before slipping them on to make sure that the lining is smooth and that there are no small objects, such as pebbles, in your shoe.

Keep the skin on your feet moisturized

Apply a thin coat of skin lotion on the tops and bottom of your feet to keep them from getting dry. But it is important that you not apply lotion in between your toes to avoid creating hot spots that could develop into sores.

Trim your toenails carefully

The suggested method for trimming nails is to cut them straight across and then file the edges with a nail file. Cutting the nails straight across reduces the possibility of clipping the skin or getting an ingrown toenail. To soften the nails for easier trimming, soak your feet in lukewarm water.

Buy shoes that fit and are comfortable.

The shoes you wear should fit your feet well and have plenty of room in them. You don’t want there to be any pressure points where a blister or sore could develop. Never buy shoes that don’t fit properly, hoping they will stretch out. Choose shoes made of canvas, leather or suede but stay away from high heels, flip-flops, sandals and shoes made of plastic or other materials that don’t breathe. If you have difficulty finding shoes at your local shoe store, there are also specialty stores that custom-make shoes for people with diabetes.

Choose your socks well

Wear clean, dry socks that are seamless. Socks with seams can cause pressure points.

Have at least one foot exam per year

In addition to all of the tips mentioned, you should have at least one foot exam by your healthcare provider. Ideally you should ask your healthcare provider to check your feet each time you go in for an appointment as a preventative measure.

Sources:

American Diabetes Association. "Foot Care.”

National Library of Medicine."Diabetes Foot Care."

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