Foot Care Guidelines For Diabetics

Gunjan Lal
April 24, 2017
Views : 1962
Foot Care Guidelines For Diabetics

Why is Foot Care Important?

If you're diabetic, consequences such as circulation problems, nerve damage, and infections often lead to serious foot problems. Nevertheless, there are precautions that you can take to maintain healthy feet. You can keep your feet in good shape by simply managing your diabetes with a healthy lifestyle. How can you maintain a healthy lifestyle? Here's how - monitor your blood sugar daily, there are many blood sugar monitoring devices in the market, you need to keep one at home; be particular about regular medical exams which should include foot checks at every visit along with checking your ABCs (A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol); keep a regular exercise routine; eat a balanced diet, have foods rich in omega- 3 and a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Daily foot care

You can help avert serious foot problems with the help of a good foot care regimen. Here are a few simple foot care habits which you can adopt and try to do every day.

#1 Check your feet

Inspect your feet and toes carefully - look over at the tops, sides, heels, soles, and the area in between the toes. If it's physically not possible for you to inspect your own feet then ask someone to help you out or do it with the help of a mirror. If you find any sores, cuts, redness, blisters or bruise which doesn't seem to heal on its own then let your doctor know.

#2 Wash your feet

Wash your feet daily in warm (or lukewarm) water with soap which is not hard on the skin. Hot water and harsh soaps only damage your skin furthermore. Don't emerge your feet directly into the water, check the water's temperature with your elbow or fingertips before putting your feet in because diabetes may make it difficult to sense the water temperature with your feet.

#3 Dry your feet

After soaking your feet or after you take a shower make sure that you pat your feet to dry them with a soft towel and make sure to dry them well. Infections tend to grow in moist areas, that's why you need to make sure that you dry the area between your toes well.

#4 Moisturize dry skin

With this chronic health condition your skin can dry out due to lack of proper hydration. Water (or fluids) essentially provide your body with moisture. Now, if you're diabetic your body would be using fluids to generate urine and therefore there'd be less moisture for other things. You can get dehydrated, and your skin may feel dry and itchy because of this reason. Developing dry skin is a common side effect of diabetes, if the skin on your feet feels dry or rough, use lotion or oil to keep them moisturized. Do not use lotion between your toes.

Healthy Foot Habits

Charting useful foot care habits will go a long way for keeping your feet in a perfect condition and healthy. Here are a few helpful tips that can help you do the same

  • While using antiseptic solutions seem like a wise option, it is not - antiseptic solutions can be harsh and burn your skin. Try not using them on your feet without the approval of your doctor.
  • Try and avoid using a heating pad, electric blanket or hot water bottle, on your feet.
  • Keep in mind to avoid walking barefoot. Most people are aware of avoiding walking bare feet on hot pavement or sandy beaches, but by simply walking barefoot around the house which may seem harmless can cause sores or injuries which may get infected and may further take a bad shape.
  • Protect your feet from extreme cold as well as heat.
  • Never try to remove calluses, warts, corns, or other foot lesions with your bare hands. Don't use chemical wart removers, corn plasters, razor blades, or liquid corn or callus removers. Seek advice from your doctor or podiatrist.
  • Try not sitting with your legs crossed or standing in one position for long periods of time.

How to Care for Your Toenails

It is advisable for people with diabetes to include routine toenail care along with their daily foot care habits. But other side effects of diabetes such as nerve problems, visual difficulty, or circulatory changes in the feet (or legs) can make this unsafe. If you are able to trim your toenails safely yourself, then great - doing so properly will help you to avoid getting a foot sore or an ulcer. Make a point to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to be sure if it's safe for you to do routine toenail care. Don't hesitate to ask them to let you know the correct way to take care of your toenails. Here are a few tips that may help you in taking proper care for your toenails -

  • Trim your toenails only after washing your feet, that's when your nails are the softest and will not cause trouble in getting removed.
  • With a nail-cutter cut straight across, rather than clipping in a curved fashion to help prevent ingrown toenails.
  • Do not cut deep into the corners, you might just injure yourself. Use an emery board (nail file) for smoothening the edges.
  • Be mindful of not cutting your toenails too short.
  • If possible, try having your toenails trimmed by a someone else, perhaps a foot doctor or another healthcare provider, if you can't see well or if your nails are too thick even after a shower or yellowed.

The Perfect Footwear - Shoes and socks

By now we know that neuropathy is another common consequence of diabetes, so if you have nerve damage or neuropathy that has affected your foot sensitivity, you may tend to overlook cuts or bumps. What can you do to prevent this? You can help protect your feet by wearing socks and shoes always.

What Type of Shoes Should You Wear?

Go for comfortable, well-fitting shoes that have plenty of room, especially in the toe box. No matter what the guy at the store says, never buy tight shoes with the conviction that they will stretch.

  • Go for shoes made out of breathable materials such as canvas, suede or leather. Do not opt for footwear made out of plastic or other non- breathable materials. Try wearing shoes that can be easily adjusted with buckles, laces or Velcro.
  • Ladies, try to avoid flip-flops, thong sandals, open-toe and pointed-toe shoes, and very high heels. Not asking you to sacrifice them entirely, just avoid them when you can.
  • Check the insides of your shoes daily for any tears or bumps that may cause pressure or irritation on your feet.
  • If your doctor has alerted you about nerve damage, then give your feet a break or change shoes after four to five hours to alternate the pressure points on different areas of your feet.
  • If you seem to face repeated problems with your feet ask your doctor if special shoes made specially for diabetic people would help.
  • Avoid socks or hosiery that have seams as they can cause additional pressure points on your feet or are too tight on the leg.
  • Socks can give you an extra layer of soft and comfortable protection between your foot and your shoe. You can also wear socks to bed if your feet are too cold.

Signs & Symptoms of Foot Problems

It's important to know and be alert about early warning signs of foot problems. The early signs and symptoms of foot problems include - burning, tingling, or painful feet; changes to the color or shape of your feet; loss of sensation to heat, cold, or touch; loss of hair on the toes, feet, and lower legs; onset of red spots, sores, blisters, ulcers, infected corns, or ingrown toenails; thickening and yellowing of the toenails. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately. Any delay could result in serious health complications.

Potential Complications

Following the above- mentioned tips can assist you in avoiding foot problems. As we have already discussed above, constant high blood sugar levels over time can end up in causing nerve damage and circulation problems. These troubles can cause and contribute to foot problems. If left unnoticed or untreated, ingrown toenails, sores, and other problems may lead to infection which can take a bad shape. Poor circulation makes recovering from an infection difficult. Therefore, it's best to avoid them if possible. Infections that do not heal in time can cause your skin and tissue to die out and turn black. This is called gangrene. Severe gangrene's treatment can involve surgery to amputate a toe, foot, or part of a leg.

While Visiting the Doctor

Your doctor would examine your feet during each visit and do a thorough foot exam once a year. If you have experienced foot problems in the past as well then you should get yourself checked more often. Your health care provider will also provide you with more information on foot care and answer all your questions. Let them know about any foot pain, corns, sores, cuts, calluses, bruises, or infections.

If required, your doctor will recommend a podiatrist (people who specialize in diabetic foot care) or provide you with information about special shoes that will be of help. Always keep in mind that Diabetes- related foot problems can worsen quickly and may get difficult to treat if left alone for a long time, so it's important to seek proper medical attention.

Here's How You Can Go About You Daily Foot Inspection Checklist

  • Set a specific time every day to do this check. Prefer to sin under good light (sunlight!) so you would be able to spot even the minutest problems.
  • If you can't or have a hard time leaning over for inspecting your foot, ask someone to for assistance or use a mirror.
  • Keep a check at your toenails to spot any changes.
  • Check between your toes for any cuts or fungus that might cause athlete's foot. Look closely at your toes, feet, and heels for any cuts, bruises, calluses, sores, blisters, scrapes, scratches, or skin changes in your skin's colour.
  • Also, keep an eye out for dry, cracking skin anywhere on your feet, toes, or heels.

To Prevent Infections

  • If you have suffered from foot troubles previously and notice any scratches, scrapes, cuts, corns, blisters, or calluses, even if they're small. Let your doctor or podiatrist know in case you need medical treatment.
  • Keep an eye out for any swelling, redness, or drainage - it could be a sign of an infection. If you think an infection is starting, do your first aid at home and get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Watch for foot sores called ulcers. They often develop on the balls of your feet or the bottoms of your toes. Tell your doctor if you think you have one.
  • Be alert if your toenails seem to change their colour to yellow or grow thicker, change in shape, striped, or do not grow normally - this could be a sign of an unseen injury or infection.
  • If your foot or ankle or toe seem red, swollen, or hot to touch, either changed in shape or size or pains during normal movement, you could have a sprain or fracture. Call your doctor/ seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Damage to your nerves (or diabetic neuropathy) can raise your risk of a severe fracture known as Charcot's foot, in which you might not be able to feel.
  • Talk to your doctor if you face any minor foot problems like bunions, plantar warts, hammertoe, or athlete's foot, or a fungal infection. Treating these issues before they take a more serious shape is important.
  • If you spot a corn, wart, or callus on your foot, don't try to be your own doctor, don't treat yourself gauze pads or antiseptic liquids. Don't try to cut these things off your skin. Go to your podiatrist or doctor, they will remove them safely.
  • Keep a close track of your blood sugar levels and follow the diet as your doctor directs. If you manage to keep your weight and blood sugar under control, you may have lesser foot problems.
Gunjan Lal

Gunjan Lal

Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.

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