A Diabetic’s Guide To Preventing Common Foot Ailments (pegged to National Diabetes Awareness Month)

November is National Diabetes Awareness month, and here at Orthopaedic Podiatric & Spine Institute, we’d like to offer you a guide to taking care of your feet when you have diabetes. You’re at a greater risk of developing complications from common foot ailments, even things like blisters or ingrown toenails, than a person who doesn’t have diabetes. It’s critically important to prevent problems - but don’t worry! We’re here to help.

Why you’re more vulnerable to foot problems

Diabetes can lead to nerve damage in your feet, which may mean that you have less feeling. On the surface, not being able to feel a pebble in your shoe or chaffing on your ankle may seem like a great thing. However, such things can cause small wounds.

In addition to nerve damage, diabetes can also cause poor blood circulation to your feet, which makes it more difficult for your body to heal. A small wound, like a cut or a blister, can easily become infected. Infection can lead to amputation.

Prevent problems before you have them

In order to keep your feet healthy, there are several things you can do. Make them part of your normal routine, and taking proper care of your feet will be easy.

Do a daily foot inspection

Give your feet a thorough visual inspection each day. A simple glance isn’t enough. Because you may not be sensitive to some sensations, you need to look carefully at the bottoms of your feet, the tops, between your toes, and at the backs of your feet each day.

Look for blisters, cuts, sores, and red spots. Check to make sure there’s no swelling, calluses or corns, or plantar warts. Feel of your feet; warm spots can be a warning.

Wash your feet

Use lukewarm water instead of hot water, and test the temperature before you put your feet in. Since you may have nerve damage, you could easily burn your feet without realizing it.

Use a mild soap, and avoid soaking your feet. You want to avoid dry skin.

After washing, carefully and thoroughly dry your feet. Make sure to dry between your toes. You may want to consider using talcum powder or cornstarch to keep your skin dry.

Protect your feet

Wear socks and shoes at all times, even inside. Walking in just your socks leaves your feet vulnerable to injury. Before you put your shoes on, make sure there are no objects in them, and that the lining inside isn’t worn or torn.

You should be extra careful to protect your feet from heat and cold. Walking on hot asphalt could result in burns, and you may not be able to tell you’re feet are in danger of frostbite due to possible nerve damage.

Choose your shoes carefully

Shoes designed for walking or athletics are often a good choice for people with diabetes. They are supportive, and also allow your feet to breathe. Avoid plastic or vinyl shoes.

Shop for shoes near the end of the day. That way you’ll account for any swelling that happens as the day goes on. Avoid shoes with pointed toes or high heels.

When you buy new shoes, wear them for a couple of hours, then check your feet to make sure there’s no rubbing or soreness. Break them in slowly over a few days.

Improve the blood flow to your feet

There are several things you can do to help improve the circulation to your feet:

Get help with foot care if you need it

If you have trouble cutting your toenails, get help. You can come to our office for help with things like trimming toenails, smoothing away calluses, and other foot care issues. It’s better to get help than to injure yourself.

Finally, if you have diabetes, you should have an annual appointment with a podiatrist, at minimum. Even if your feet feel fine and you’re taking good care of them, once a year, you need to see a specialist.

If you have questions about caring for your diabetic feet, you need help caring for them, or it’s time for your annual visit, book an appointment online or by phone. We’re happy to see you at Orthopaedic Podiatric & Spine Institute.

 

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