10 important steps to diabetes foot care
The American Diabetes Association estimates foot problems account for one of every five hospitalizations for those with diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over half of diabetes-related amputations could be prevented with patient education and regular exams. With numbers like this, there is little doubt that taking care of your feet should be a priority.
Stepping into diabetes foot care
Avoiding these frightening diabetes complications starts with regular care of your feet. Over time, these tips from the American Diabetes Association for taking good care of your feet will become routine:
- Check your feet every day. Look for any signs of redness, bruising, cuts and scrapes, blisters or any changes that seem worrisome. If you need help seeing the bottom of your feet, use a mirror.
- Clean and moisturize. Clean your feet thoroughly every day and dry them with a soft towel. Moisturize with lotion, but only on the tops and bottom of the feet. Avoid getting lotion between your toes.
- Trim your toenails carefully. Clip them straight across and file the edges with an emery board. If you can't clip your toenails, enlist someone else to do it for you.
- Avoid extreme heat or cold. Test bathwater before you step in. Avoid using heating pads or cold packs on your feet. This is especially true if you have problems with sensation in your feet, as you might not be able to tell when your feet are being damaged by extreme heat or cold.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can cause problems with circulation, and that means less blood flow to your feet. That lack of blood flow can make healing of even minor injuries much more difficult.
- Exercise your feet. Walking is great exercise that can stimulate blood flow to your feet. When you are sitting, flex your feet back and forth, swivel them on your ankles and wiggle your toes.
- Wear socks and shoes at all times. Don't walk barefoot, even in your own house. Always wear comfortable socks and shoes that have been approved by your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about special shoes. If the shoes you are wearing are uncomfortable or cause blisters, speak with your doctor about custom shoes that could help you avoid injuries.
- Get regular foot exams. Simply talking to your doctor isn't enough. Take off your shoes and socks at the start of every visit to remind your doctor that you need a foot exam.
- Keep diabetes in check. The easiest way to avoid diabetes complications is to keep your blood sugar under tight control. Test your blood sugar often, take medications exactly as prescribed and incorporate healthy changes into your diet.
Further help with diabetes foot care
If you have problems with nerve damage, ulcers that are slow to heal or other foot problems, there are products on the market designed to make life easier. Special creams and lotions that ease the pain of neuropathy are available both over the counter and with prescription. Customized shoes, socks and insoles are available by prescription, and the cost is often covered by insurance or Medicare. Enlist the help of your doctor to find the diabetes supplies that are right for you.
American Diabetes Association, "Foot Care"
CDC, "Foot Problems"
Mayo Clinic, "Blog: Diabetes Foot Care"