prevent diabetic foot problems
What can I do to prevent diabetic foot problems?
Every person with diabetes - with or without any of these risk factors - should take proper care of their feet. Routine foot inspection and preventive care can minimize or prevent foot problems. Below are things to make sure you ask your doctor about:
- You should have a thorough foot examination by a professional at least once a year. This includes checking the sense of feeling and the pulses in your feet. (See box.)
- Ask for a risk evaluation. Specific follow-up and treatment will be based on what risk category your feet are in. Ask for special instructions for people with high-risk feet, if applicable.
- If you have lost some sensation in your feet, they should be visually inspected at every visit. Take off your shoes and socks at every visit and make sure this happens.
- Ask your provider to check your footwear to make sure that the style and fit are appropriate for the condition of your feet. Ask if special shoes would help your feet stay healthy.
Many diabetes treatment programs operate regular foot clinics to help patients with routine foot care and to make sure that preventive measures are taken. Some pharmacists specializing in diabetes care offer similar programs. Be sure to take advantage of any foot care programs that are available to you.
Of course, the best way to prevent foot problems is to keep your blood glucose under control. But there are also specific things you should do EVERY DAY to make sure your feet stay fit. Here are some of them:
- Examine your feet EVERY DAY to look for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, etc. If you have anything of that nature, and it doesn't heal in a day or two, notify your doctor. If you have trouble seeing or reaching your feet, ask someone to help, or use a mirror to help you see better.
- Wash your feet EVERY DAY with lukewarm water and mild soap. Dry them carefully and thoroughly with a soft towel. Dust your feet with talcum powder, which will help keep them dry.
- Don't soak your feet - this will make your skin too dry.
- If you have dry skin on your feet, use a moisturizing lotion to prevent cracking - but NEVER use a lotion or cream between your toes, as this can lead to infection.
- If you have corns or calluses, DO NOT cut them, don't use corn plasters or liquid corn and callus removers - they can damage your skin. Check with your doctor or foot care specialist who may advise you to use a pumice stone to smooth calluses or corns.
- Keep your toenails trimmed. Trim them with toenail clippers after you have washed and dried your feet. Trim the nails following the shape of your toes, and smooth them with an emery board or nail file. Don?t cut into the corners of the nail, which could trigger an ingrown toenail. If your nails are very thick or yellowed, have a foot care specialist trim them.
- Don't go barefoot - not even indoors. Always wear socks, stockings, or nylons with your shoes to help avoid blisters and sores. Choose soft socks made of cotton, wool, or a cotton-polyester blend, which will help keep your feet dry. Avoid mended socks or those with seams, which can rub to cause blisters.
- Avoid wearing socks or hose that are too tight around your legs. Knee-high or thigh-high stockings as well as elasticized men's dress socks can constrict circulation to your legs and feet.