Why Good Foot Care is Important for Diabetic Patients
People with diabetes often experience problems with their feet, caused by the changes to the body that come with the disease. Good foot care can help you prevent conditions that can cause damage – sometimes permanent – to your feet and toes. We want you to understand how diabetes can aﬀect your feet and what you can do to keep them healthy.
Diabetes causes many changes in the body, particularly the feet, including nerve damage (neuropathy), the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, changes in the skin and changes in the size and shape of toes and feet. You need to be aware of the potential dangers of these changes and how you can help to prevent harm.
Nerve damage can cause a feeling of tingling, burning or stinging pain or loss of sensation (feeling) in your feet. That means that you are less likely to feel pain or extremes of heat and cold. As a result, you may not notice if your feet are injured by a hot pad or electric blanket turned on too high, not enough protection from cold and even something as simple as a pebble caught in your shoe that has created a blister. Left untended, these injuries can cause ulcers (open sores) or permanent damage.
Hardening and narrowing of blood vessels makes it more diﬃcult for your body to ﬁght infection and heal wounds and other injuries. Even a small cut or sore, if not noticed and left unattended, can quickly become a serious problem.
Changes caused by diabetes often include dry skin that causes drying, peeling and cracking. These conditions need to be treated properly, so that the skin remains soft and supple but without causing overly moist skin that can lead to infections. Many people with diabetes ﬁnd that callouses on their feet form more often and grow quickly. If they are not tended to properly, these callouses can become very thick and then begin to break down, causing ulcers. Unfortunately, common over-the-counter treatments for callouses contain chemicals that can cause burns on the skin of diabetic patients, which leads to even more harm.
Size and Shape of Feet
Diabetic patients often experience a change in the size and shape of their feet and toes. Shoes that once ﬁt become diﬃcult to wear and walking becomes more of a problem. Trying to wear shoes that do not ﬁt properly can cause many problems, including long-term injuries.
Daily Foot Care for People With Diabetes
Check your feet every day
Check your feet for cuts, sores, swelling, calluses, red spots and infected toenails every day. If you cannot see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone else to help.
Wash your feet every day
Wash your feet in warm water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get dry. When you’re done, dry well, especially between your toes. Use talcum powder or cornstarch to keep the skin between your toes dry.
Keep your skin soft & smooth
Rub a thin coat of skin lotion or cream on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not moisturize between your toes, as this could trap moisture and lead to further skin problems.
Wear shoes and socks at all times
Do not walk barefoot, even indoors, because it’s easy to step on something and hurt your feet. Always wear socks, stockings or nylons with your shoes to help avoid blisters and sores. Choose clean, lightly padded socks that ﬁt well.
Keep the blood ﬂowing to your feet
Put your feet up while sitting and don’t cross your legs for long periods of time. Wiggle your toes for ﬁve minutes two or three times per day. Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces blood ﬂow to your feet.
Talk to your doctor
Tell your doctor if you see any changes and have your doctor examine your feet regularly and recommend treatments that you may need to keep your feet healthy.
Ill-Fitting Shoes Side Eﬀects
Wearing shoes that don’t ﬁt your natural size can lead to foot wounds or ulcers. Ulcers are painful and potentially serious and can often lead to amputation. Other foot problems from wearing inappropriate footwear includes calluses, bunions, corns and swelling.
Tips for Proper Footwear
• Athletic or walking shoes are good for daily wear. They support your feet and allow them to breathe. • Don’t buy pointed toes or high heels because they put too much pressure on your toes. • Don’t buy shoes with too ﬂat a sole or shoes with more than a 1” heel because they don’t allow for even distribution of foot pressure. • Look for styles that have soft insoles. • Choose leather, canvas, or suede styles to allow adequate circulation of air. • Look for such features as laces, buckles, or Velcro. These make it easier to adjust the shoe. • Most importantly, if your doctor prescribes special diabetic shoes and inserts, be sure to get comfortable styles you’ll enjoy wearing. If you don’t love your shoes, you won’t enjoy the health beneﬁts your doctor intended.
In addition to shoes, you may want to consider other footwear products to help protect your feet. Good diabetic socks are specially designed to be seamless and wick moisture away from your feet. This helps protect your feet against sores and infections. Diabetic slippers are designed to give your feet the extra protection you need at home. Many are also extra-depth to accommodate your prescription diabetic inserts.