Foot care for diabetics
It is important to take good care of your feet if you have diabetes. Without proper care, your feet can easily develop problems such as calluses or sores that won’t heal.
These problem occur because diabetes affects the nerves in the legs and feet; this limits the amount of healing blood that can circulate to the feet.
Since the nerves are deadened, a foot problem may not be noticed before it is severe and requires medical attention.
Check your feet. When you check your feet each day, look and feel for one or more of these signs of trouble: redness, pain, swelling or hear. See your doctor if you find redness, pain, blistering or swelling or if you have itching between your toes. Never use any medication on your feet without asking your doctor. Some medications are too strong for people who have poor circulation in their feet.
Keep your feet clean. Wash your feet every day, and dry them carefully, especially between the toes. The nerves in your feet may not be working as well as they should. So be sure to check the temperature of your bath water with your elbow before you step into the bath. This could save you from a badly burned foot.
Look for dry skin. Dry skin cracks easily, allowing infections to start. After a bath, dry your feet and apply hand lotion with lanolin, mineral oil or Vaseline to your feet and legs. Be sure to apply a little lotion around the toenails and over calluses.
Check your toenails. Your toenails should be cut to follow the shape of your toe. Look at the corners of your toenails and make sure they don’t cut into your skin. The nails should extend just to the end of the toes. Toenails are softer and easier to cut after a bath.
Look for calluses. As calluses become thick and hard, they become like rocks in your shoes. Large calluses should be removed by your physical therapist or health care provider. You can take care of small calluses yourself. After taking a bath, use a pumice stone on the callus. The callus will be softer and easier to smooth after your bath.
Look for blisters. Blisters are usually caused by shoes that don’t fit. Put a bandage over the blister to protect it. Do not cut the top off the blister.
Look for wounds. Wounds are caused by sharp objects sticking the foot.
Check your socks. Wear clean cotton or wool socks every day. Check for stains or wet areas.
Always wear shoes when indoors or outdoors. Shoes are designed to protect your feet. Walking barefoot or with open-toed sandals can lead to cuts and bruises. When you take off your shoes at home, put on a pair of slippers. Look inside your shoes for pebbles or other objects that could irritate your feet.
Make sure your shoes fit. A well-designed shoe or boot should have laces and a round toe. Make sure you can move your toes inside your shoes. You can adjust the laces of your shoes for the swelling of your feet during hot weather, the wearing of heavy socks in winter, and for lighter socks in summer. Shoes should have soft soles that bend as you walk. Choose shoes made of leather so that your feet can breathe. Look for:
- Shoes made of leather or canvas
- Label that says “leather uppers”
- Laces or straps
- A smooth lining, usually made of leather
- A firm heel no higher than 1.25 inches
- Rounded toe box
Warm your feet carefully. If your feet feel cold or numb, the best way to warm them is by putting on warm socks or wearing socks to bed. This is especially good advice during winter. You should not use a hot water bottle or electric pad to warm your feet; your feet lack feeling, so you may not feel a burn before it is serious. Be careful not to put your feet near a stove or open fire for warmth.