Diabetic Foot Care

According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015, more than 30 million Americans had diabetes with 1.5 million new cases diagnosed each year. From head to toe, diabetes can have significant and detrimental effects on the body, causing such things as poor eye vision, kidney damage, and peripheral neuropathy. Therefore, it is important to not only control your blood sugar levels, if you have diabetes, but to also take preventative measures to help minimize the risk of these, and other, potential complications.

WHY FOOT CARE IS IMPORTANT IN PEOPLE WITH DIABETES

Peripheral neuropathy in the feet can lead to deformities, ulcerations, severe infections, and even amputations. Because of this, it is vital to not neglect your feet until it is too late. Check out my 10 foot care tips below to help keep your feet healthy!

 

FOOT CARE TIPS

1. Look at your feet daily

It is important to examine your feet on a daily basis, especially the bottoms, to make sure there are no new skin marks, open wounds, or signs of infection. If you notice anything new and/or unusual, report it to your doctor right away.

 

2. Never walk barefoot

With peripheral neuropathy, you may not realize you have stepped on something, so you should always protect your feet with proper, supportive shoe gear.

 

3. Wear white diabetic socks

Diabetic socks are specially designed to be more padded, looser fitting, and seamless. To learn more about them, check out the Orthofeet website. In addition, wearing light-colored socks are better for noticing any drainage that may be coming from the feet.

4. Look inside your shoes before putting them on

Foreign objects can easily fall into shoes, so it’s good to check inside your shoes, and even shake them out before putting them on.

 

5. Make sure to keep the area between your toes dry

After you bathe, dry well between the toes. Too much moisture can cause skin maceration, breakdown, and open wounds.

 

6. Use a daily moisturizer

Dry skin can result from the elevated blood sugars in diabetes, so it’s important to keep your feet hydrated with daily moisturizer; however, avoid putting it between your toes because, as mentioned above, it can make the areas too moist and cause skin breakdown.

 

7. Visit a podiatrist routinely

Having a podiatrist, or another healthcare specialist, look at your feet on a routine basis is a good preventive care for patients with diabetes. In certain circumstances, some people with diabetes even qualify for preventative routine foot care. This means that their insurance may cover the cost of podiatry visits, which involve a lower extremity evaluation, nail care, and shaving of any corns or calluses. 

 

8. Consider custom orthotics and/or diabetic shoes

Custom orthotics are special-made devices that go into your shoes to help cushion, support, and/or control abnormal motion(s) of your feet. They can also help slow down the progression of foot deformities. 

 

There are two main different types of custom orthotics: functional and accommodative. Functional orthotics tend to be made with more rigid materials, while accommodative orthotics or usually made with softer materials, thus being more “accommodating” to severe deformities. Therefore, if the purpose is to support the foot and control abnormal motions, a functional orthotic may be used. If the person has a severe deformity and peripheral neuropathy, an accommodative device may be more appropriate.

 

9. Control your blood sugar levels 

High blood glucose levels contribute to nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy. Elevated readings can also make it more difficult for you to heal an open wound or heal after elective surgery. 

 

Getting an HbA1c test done can provide a better estimate of your blood sugar than taking a random reading. The HbA1c level is the 3-month average of your blood sugars. This number is more often used by healthcare professionals. 

 

10. Don’t delay care if you notice anything unusual 

Small wounds can become severe infections and lead to amputations very quickly, so it’s crucial to make sure your doctor (primary or specialist) is aware of any new open wounds or signs of infection. 

 

What things should I look for?

  • Skin discoloration: 

    • Increased redness can be a sign of infection

    • Purple or black can be a sign of poor circulation and skin necrosis.

  • Blisters:

    • Do not pop any blisters. Instead, closely monitor for signs of infection (e.g. increased redness, swelling, pus drainage) and notify your doctor right away. In the meantime, keep them protected until you can talk with your doctor.

  • Open wounds/sores:

    • Keep the area(s) covered/protected and notify your doctor right away.

    • If you notice the area worsening oryou notice any signs of infection (e.g. increased redness, swelling, pus drainage) oryou experience any symptoms of infection (e.g. nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills), go to your nearest emergency room immediately for further work-up and evaluation.

Disclaimer: The above information is meant for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult the doctor, or your own healthcare professional, should you have questions or concerns related to your health.

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