Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetics are more prone to various foot problems than those without diabetes due to damage to nerves and blood vessels in their legs and feet. The nerve damage, called peripheral neuropathy, leads to numbness in the feet making it difficult to detect extreme temperatures and pain. Diabetes may also reduce blood flow to the feet, called peripheral arterial disease, making it harder to heal a wound or resist infection. As a result you could develop a blister or a sore on your foot that could lead to an infection or a non-healing wound that could put you at risk for an amputation.
To avoid serious foot problems that could result in an amputation follow these simple rules:
- Inspect your feet daily. Check the tops, sides, soles, heels, and between your toes. Look for dry and cracked skin, blisters, sores, bruises, cuts, redness, warmth or tenderness.
- Clean your feet daily. Wash your feet in lukewarm (not hot) water and a mild soap. After washing, make sure you dry your feet thoroughly, especially in-between the toes.
- Moisturize your feet daily, but not between your toes. Dry skin can crack leading to infection. Don't moisturize between the toes because it could encourage a fungal infection.
- Wear clean, dry socks. Change your socks daily. Avoid thick or bulky socks that may crumple causing irritation to your skin.
- Keep your feet warm and dry. Skin that is chronically wet can breakdown leading to an infection.
- Never walk barefoot. Always wear shoes or slippers, even at home. An unprotected foot could easily be scratched or cut leading to an infection.
- Never attempt to treat corns or calluses yourself. Avoid using corn and callus removers and sharp blades on your feet.
- Cut nails carefully. Cut them straight across and file the edges. Don't cut nails too short since this could lead to ingrown toenails.
- Don't smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow to your feet.
- Get annual foot exams. Your podiatrist plays a critical role in the prevention and management of complications of the foot in diabetics. Talk to your podiatrist today to see what you can do now to keep your feet safe and healthy.
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