What You Should Know About Foot Care
If you have diabetes, taking care of your feet is very important! Diabetes that is not well-managed can decrease the blood flow to your feet and damage the nerves (neuropathy). When that happens your feet may feel numb, hot or tingly. Diabetes can make the skin on your feet very dry. Dry skin can lead to cracks and sores. You may also get more calluses.
These cracks, sores and calluses combined with poor circulation can lead to foot ulcers that may be very hard to heal. If you have numb feet, it may be hard to feel any foot injury or infection and it may go unnoticed for a long time. Prevention of foot problems is very important!
What To Do
1. Keep your blood sugar in good control
2. Check your feet every day for cuts, scratches, blisters, red spots and swelling.
- Use a mirror to check the bottoms of your feet or ask a family member for help if you have trouble seeing.
3. Do not soak your feet. Wash your feet every day using mild soap in warm, not hot, water.
- Dry your feet well, especially between the toes.
4. Keep the skin soft and smooth.
- Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
5. Smooth corns and calluses gently.
- If your feet are at low risk for problems, use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses. Don’t use over-the-counter products or sharp objects on corns or calluses.
6. If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them each week or when needed.
- Trim your nails in the shape of the end of your toe and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
7. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet at all times.
- Never walk bare foot, even inside.
- Feel inside your shoes before putting them on each time to make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
- Wear socks that are smooth on the inside.
- Do not wear sandals with a thong between the toes.
- Buy your shoes at the end of the day to make sure they fit if your feet swell.
- If you have “high risk” feet, you can get special shoes made for people with diabetes. See your podiatrist to get measured properly.
8. Protect your feet from hot and cold.
- Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement.
- Wear socks at night if your feet get cold.
- Don’t test bath water with your feet.
- Don’t use hot water bottles or heating pads.
9. Keep the blood flowing to your feet.
- Put your feet up when sitting.
- Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.
- Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time.
- Don’t smoke.
10. Have your medical provider check your feet for problems briefly at every visit. A complete foot exam should be done each year.
11. Call your medical provider right away if you find a cut, sore, blister, or bruise on your foot that does not begin to heal after one day.
Take off your shoes and socks when you see your medical provider so they remember to check your feet. If your nails are very thick, you may need help cutting them. A foot doctor (podiatrist) can help you with this. With good care, your feet can last a lifetime.
Surprise in the Mirror
“At my diabetes education class, they were talking about checking your feet every day. This is boring! So what changes from one day to the next? Well, feeling a little stupid, I get a hand mirror like they said. And start looking at the soles of my feet. Nothing hurts, or itches. Seems silly! Then, uh oh! I see it and I can’t believe it. A needle—sticking right out of my foot! And it’s broken off. Well, I got myself to the doctor right away. You don’t fool with even a little hole in the foot. Even I know that. I just never expected to find one. I’m glad I looked.”