Question

Diabetes Complications

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

A Answers (3)

  • 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.
  • You can do the following to take care of your feet if you are diabetic:
    • Wash your feet in warm water every day: Make sure the water is not too hot, by testing the temperature with your elbow. Do not soak your feet.
    • Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.
    • Look at your feet every day to check for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or other problems: Checking every day is even more important if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow. If you cannot bend over or pull your feet up to check them, use a mirror. If you cannot see well, ask someone else to check your feet.
    • If your skin is dry, rub lotion on your feet after you wash and dry them: Do not put lotion between your toes.
    • File corns and calluses gently with an emery board or a pumice stone: Do this after your bath or shower.
    • Cut your toenails once a week or when needed: Cut toenails when they are soft from washing. Cut them to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board.
    • Always wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet from injuries.
    • Always wear socks or stockings to avoid blisters: Do not wear socks or knee-high stockings that are too tight below your knee.
    • Wear shoes that fit well: Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are bigger. Break in shoes slowly. Wear them for one to two hours each day for the first few weeks. Before putting on your shoes, feel the insides to make sure they have no sharp edges or objects that might injure your feet.
    This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  • 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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