Treat your Feet Right
Diabetes is a systemic condition, which means it affects multiple parts of the body, right down to your toes. Specifically, uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet, making it difficult for you to feel a blister or other foot injury. Diabetes also affects your circulation, which slows the healing of foot wounds. Poorly controlled diabetes with extra sugar in the blood can “feed” the germs that cause infections. Left untreated, a foot infection can cause tissue to die, which may lead to amputation. Fortunately, according to the American Diabetes Association, most amputations can be prevented with proper foot care and footwear. Here are some tips to get you off on the right foot:
Control your Blood Sugar
Eating right, exercising regularly, and taking your medications as directed can have a big impact on your overall health, including the health of your feet. If you smoke, quit: Smoking worsens blood vessel damage.
Do a Daily Foot Check
Using a plastic mirror, examine your feet for any blisters, injuries, swelling, nail problems, changes in skin color, or other foot problems. If you can’t get a good look at your feet, ask someone else to examine them daily. Call your doctor immediately about any concerns.
Get your Feet Examined
Have your doctor examine your feet at every visit, and see a podiatrist (a doctor who specializes in foot care) at least once a year. Ask how to trim your toenails properly and for other instructions on foot care.
Protect Feet from Temperature Extremes
Nerve damage in the feet makes it difficult to detect heat and cold. Use your elbow (not your toe) to test the temperature of water before stepping in. Also avoid hot water bottles and heating blankets and pads, which can cause burns. In summer, protect feet from hot pavements and sand by wearing shoes.
Keep Feet Clean
Once a day, wash feet with gentle soap and warm water. Dry them thoroughly, especially between toes. Apply a gentle unscented lotion to feet, but not between toes. Finish with a gentle foot massage to improve blood flow.
Keep Feet Covered
Never go barefoot—not even indoors. Always wear slippers or well-fitting shoes to protect feet from injury.
Seek Better Socks
Select thick, soft socks without bumps, seams, or stitches that could cause sore spots. Socks made of material that “wicks” perspiration away from your skin (such as COOLMAX®) can help prevent blisters. Avoid socks and hosiery with tight elastic, which can hinder circulation.
Go Shoe Shopping
Often untreated foot problems that result in amputation are caused by shoes that don’t fit properly. Choose shoes that completely cover your feet, fit well, and are made from leather, canvas, or another material that “breathes.” Ask your doctor about custom-made shoes, which may be covered by Medicare or insurance. Before putting on any shoes, check the interior for bumps or debris that could cut or irritate feet.
COOLMAX® performance fabric is a registered trademark of INVISTA.