Diabetic Foot Care
Importance of Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes is a disease that can harm you from head to toe, affecting many of your body’s organs as well as your circulation. Its effect on your feet can be catastrophic. Each year, about 130,000 people with diabetes have an amputation. Over time, diabetes can affect the blood vessels and nerves of the feet. Damaged nerves cause symptoms in your feet like:
- Loss of sensation
These symptoms can cause issues with your balance, contributing to falls. They also affect your ability to feel if your foot has been injured, putting you at risk for infection.
Damage to your blood vessels slows or impedes circulation, causing poor blood flow to your feet. Poor blood flow makes it difficult for your body to deliver healing nutrients to your feet. Cuts or sores can’t heal properly without healthy blood flow and can lead to serious complications like gangrene and amputation.
You’re at risk of developing foot problems if you have:
- Had diabetes for a long time
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy)
- Poor blood flow (peripheral vascular disease)
- Poorly controlled blood glucose levels
- Weight problems
That’s why it’s essential to take excellent care of your feet and check them daily if you have diabetes. Knowing what to look for can help you prevent a small problem from progressing into a life-changing problem like an amputation.
What to Look Out For
Make a daily foot check part of your morning or bedtime routine. Check for changes in your skin color, temperature, or integrity. Look at every inch of your feet, even if you need to use a mirror or have someone help you.
Look for things like:
- Changes in skin color and/or temperature
- Corns or calluses
- Dry, cracked skin, especially around the heel
- Ingrown toenails
- Leg pain
- Sores on the feet that are draining or slow to heal
- Swelling in the foot or ankle
- Toenail fungus
- Unusual foot odor
During your daily foot care routine:
- Wash your feet gently with warm (not hot) water.
- If needed, trim toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.
- Carefully dry each foot, paying particular attention to the areas between the toes where moisture can hide.
- Apply lotion to only the top and bottom of your feet – do not apply lotion between the toes.
- Wear well-fitting socks or slippers inside, and always wear shoes outside.
- Help maintain circulation by elevating your feet when you’re sitting down, wiggling your toes throughout the day, and staying active.
Regular appointments with a podiatrist are also an important part of proper diabetic foot care.