Diabetes and Foot Care

If you have diabetes, a daily foot care routine is essential to keeping feet healthy and free of infection. Nearly half of all diabetics will develop neuropathy, a loss of feeling in the lower extremities. This presents serious health concerns as foot injuries can go unnoticed and develop into ulcers.

Diabetic foot ulcers are open wounds or sores that typically result from trauma, puncture wounds or irritation. Foot ulcers are most common reason for hospitalizations among diabetics, and in many cases they can lead to severe complications including amputation and premature death. Approximately 14 to 24 percent of diabetic patients who develop foot ulcers will require an amputation (Source: American Podiatric Medical Association).

Although foot ulcers are serious, they can be prevented with daily foot care and maintenance. Include these steps in your foot care routine to keep feet clean, healthy, and free of infection:

Check feet daily – Inspect the tops and bottoms of your feet each day. Look for redness, swelling, cuts, bruises, and blisters. Check toenails for any abnormalities such as thickening, discoloration or ingrown toenails.

Wash feet every day – Cleanse feet with soap and warm water, then pat dry with a soft, clean towel. Apply a moisturizing lotion to the tops and bottoms of feet, avoiding the area between the toes.

Trim toenails – Cut nails straight across and gently file any sharp edges to prevent ingrown toenails. Never attempt to trim cuticles or remove calluses, corns or warts by yourself.

Wear socks and shoes – Socks and shoes create a barrier to protect the feet from injury. Choose soft, natural-fiber socks that fit snugly but are not too tight. Shoes should be supportive with a soft insole to cushion your feet. Avoid styles with open toes or heels, high heels or narrow toe boxes.

In addition to daily foot care, be sure to maintain routine check-ups with a podiatrist. These visits will detect any changes in the color, shape or sensitivity in your lower extremities which could indicate potential health complications. Seek medical care immediately if you notice discoloration, numbness, pain, tingling, wounds or ingrown toenails (Source: American Podiatric Medical Association).