Question

Diabetes Complications

How should I care for my feet if I have diabetes?

A Answers (2)

  • Keep your feet clean and dry. Wash them every day with a mild soap. Dry them off carefully, especially between the toes. If the skin on your feet is too dry, apply a lotion thinly everywhere but between the toes.

    • Inspect your feet and between your toes daily. Look for swollen areas, red areas, and cuts or breaks in the skin and feel for very cold areas (this could mean poor blood circulation) and very warm areas (this could mean infection).
    • Never go barefoot. Although this is a good rule for everyone, it is really important for people who have lost sensation in their feet. Wear swimmers’ shoes whenever you go swimming.
    • Make a habit of cutting your toenails to follow the curve of your toe. This helps you avoid ingrown toenails.
    • Wear only comfortable, well-fitting shoes. Don’t expect to break in new shoes—they should feel comfortable right away. Shoes made of leather help your feet get the air circulation they need to stay healthy.
    • If you have a loss of sensation in your feet or have neuropathy, you may not be able to trust how a shoe feels to decide whether the fit is good for you. Find a shoewear specialist who is trained to fit people with diabetes.
    • Never try amateur surgery on your feet. Have your provider or podiatrist treat calluses, corns, plantar warts, and the like.
    • Get early treatment for foot problems! Call your doctor or podiatrist if you have any of these problems: an open sore (ulcer) on your foot; a cut or blister that is slow to heal; any infection in a cut or blister; a red, tender toe - possibly an ingrown toenail; any change in feeling, such as pain, tingling, numbness, or burning; any puncture wound, such as if you step on a nail or thorn.
  • Ira M. Baum, DPM, a podiatrist on the Baptist Hospital medical staffs says that, if you have diabetes, many amputations can be prevented by proper daily foot care and periodic examination by a podiatrist to detect ulcers or other diabetes-related foot problems. “People ignore minor cuts and irritations and try to treat them with home remedies, but this can often make the problem worse,” he says. “Patients with diabetes should leave their foot care to a professional.”

    Daily foot inspection by the patient or a family member is the number one rule, Dr. Baum says. “Gentle cleansing with soap and water, followed by the application of topical moisturizers, helps to maintain healthy skin that can better resist breakdown and injury.”

    Proper footwear is also essential, and prescription footwear may be available for many patients with diabetes. Medicare and insurance may cover the cost of the diabetic therapeutic shoes if your doctor prescribes them. For a referral to a podiatrist, ask your doctor.
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