Life for people living with diabetes takes more conscientious decision making than for the lucky folks who aren’t. Pricks, tests, levels, diet, exercise; everything requires care and consideration for health and happiness’ sake.
So it is with foot care. As foot and ankle care specialists, we hope that this list of ten things to be aware of can be a time saver for those of you looking for diabetes management information.
1. Diabetics should check their feet daily
It is especially important for diabetes patients to check their feet for any sign of damage on a daily basis. You could easily have problems but feel no pain in your feet. These problems could include:
- Ingrown toenails
A simple mnemonic is to check your feet every night when you pull off your shoes.If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, try using a mirror or even your smartphone. And don’t be afraid to ask your family or a caregiver for help.
2. Proper diabetic foot care depends on cleanliness
Use warm water and don’t soak your feet because the skin could dry out. After bathing, make sure to dry them thoroughly and use foot powder to prevent infection between the toes.
3. See a foot and ankle care specialist regularly
A foot and ankle care specialist will check your feet ankles at every visit. They’ll make regular notes of your sense of feeling to anticipate any problems with circulation. They will be your best source of advice on foot care and will help ensure that you stay happy on your feet for as long as naturally possible.
4. Keep the skin of the feet supple
Dry skin leads to cracked skin, which is more prone to damage. It’s much more essential that the skin stay properly moisturized for individuals concerned about diabetes management than for others.
Rub a dime-sized amount of lotion or petroleum jelly on just the bottoms and tops of the feet. Make sure it’s evenly distributed in a thin layer. Avoid the areas between the toes because those could become infected.
Put your feet up for better circulation and allow them to dry before putting your socks back on;)
5. Diabetics should treat corns and calluses with care
If you have calluses or corns, we advise you to check with a foot and ankle specialist about best care practices.
Your foot and ankle specialist may advise you to use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses. This is best done after bathing or showering as the skin will be softer and easier to work. Be sure to rub gently in one direction to avoid damaging the skin.
Never use razor blades, corn plasters, or liquid corn and callus removers. While people who don’t suffer from diabetes might commonly use some of these methods, the risk of infection is just too severe to recommend such actions to folks who do.
6. Diabetic foot care depends on regularly trimmed toenails
Like dealing with corns and calluses, toenail trimming is best done after a shower and for the same reasons.
Always trim straight across with toenail clippers and then (if desired) smooth the corners with file or emery board. This can help prevent ingrown nails. Never use the clippers to cut into the toenails’ corners.
Definitely talk to a foot and ankle care specialist for help trimming your nails if the following are true:
- You cannot reach, feel or see your feet
- Your nails are prone to becoming ingrown
- Your toenails are discolored or thick
7. Wear socks and shoes at all times for protection
Walking barefoot or otherwise without protection can be very dangerous for diabetes patients as any damage could easily worsen. Even at the beach, unfortunately, it’s advised to wear socks and shoes and avoid possible injury.
Check inside your shoes before you put them on; who knows what the cat left in there last night?
Socks are essential to keeping from getting blisters. Look for lightly padded socks that are an appropriate fit and try to avoid ones with seams. Your foot and ankle care specialist can assist you in finding the right footwear and orthotics if necessary for your lifestyle.
8. Extreme temperatures should be avoided
Diabetes patients often experience lessened feeling in the feet and that means you may burn them and be totally unaware of it. Definitely use sunscreen (avoiding the in-betweens of the toes) to prevent sunburn. Avoid heat sources like campfires, hot water bottles, and electric blankets. If your feet get cold, wear socks.
9. Proper diabetic foot care means paying attention to blood flow
2 times a day, try to do some foot care calisthenics: Wiggle your toes and count to ten Mississippi. Then rotate your ankles (clockwise, then counter clockwise) for the same ten count. Repeat three times. Easy, right?
Besides that simple therapy, remember to avoid crossing the legs, tight socks or other clothing as this is counterproductive.
10. If you smoke, STOP!
Among the myriad other reasons to not poison yourself, smoking is terrible for blood circulation just like it’s terrible for health and just terrible in general.
Seek professional help if you must. Please, if not for yourself, for the people that love and care for you. Call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
If you or someone you know is suffering from diabetes, we encourage you to check in with a foot specialist. Call 877-989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com to schedule a consultation.
He then went on to complete his surgical reconstruction fellowship with the University Foot and Ankle Institute, one of only a few fellowships recognized by the American College Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Now playing an integral role at the University Foot and Ankle Institute, Dr. Yau’s treats various sports injuries, including sprains, arthritis and fractures. He also is passionate about helping diabetic patients avoid amputation through correction of deformities and wound healing.
Dr. Yau is available for consultation at our Simi Valley location.
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