Foot Care Basics

RFS -  Foot ExamIt’s very important for people with diabetes to understand and adhere to foot care basics. Lack of proper foot care can lead to an unnecessary amputation. 6 of 10 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur among people with diabetes. That adds up to about 82,000 amputations annually for people with diabetes.

Once an individual has an amputation additional complication and challenges to daily living activities occur. But this doesn’t have to happen to you!

The first step in avoiding potential amputations is to keep your glucose levels in check. Study after study indicates that failure to maintain proper glucose levels exacerbates ALL of the complications associated with diabetes.

Nerve damage from diabetes causes loss of feeling to the lower extremities for 60 – 70% of all diabetics. Even something simple like poor fitting shoes can cause serious problems.

See a Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a doctor a who specializes in the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ailments that affect the feet, the ankles and even the lower legs. A podiatrist should be a member of your health care team and, in conjunction with your other health care providers, develop a foot care plan that meets your needs.

  • Have them show you how to correctly care for your feet.
  • Have them evaluate your health to see if you are at special risk for foot problems.
  • Have them help you determine what shoes are required for your condition.

Check Your Feet Everyday

Even though you don’t feel any pain you may have problems developing — you might not be able to feel it!

  • Check your feet top and bottom for cuts, sores, red spots, blisters, swelling or infected toe nails.
  • If you have problems bending over, use a mirror or ask a family member or caregiver to help you.

Wash Your Feet Everyday

  • Wash your feet in warm – not hot water.
  • Do not soak your feet (these causes them to dry out).
  • Thoroughly pat your feet dry after washing especially between your toes.
  • Use talcum powder or cornstarch in between your toes to keep them dry and from rubbing together.

Keep Your Skin Smooth and Soft

  • Run a thin coat of lotion, cream or petroleum jelly on the tops and bottoms of your feet.
  • Don’t put lotion between your toes because that can cause an infection.

Take Extra Care with Corns or Calluses

  • Talk to your podiatrist about the best way to treat corns and calluses.
  • If it is okay with your doctor, use a pumice stone (volcanic rock) to carefully and slowly smooth away. the corn or callus after bathing or showering. Only rub the stone gently and in one direction to avoid tearing the skin.
  • Don’t cut corns or calluses or use over the counter corn plasters or other remedies which can damage the skin.

Trim Your Toenails

Long toenails can damage the skin, become ingrown or infected (not to mention being unsightly!)

  • If you are unable to trim your nails ask a family member, caregiver or your doctor to do it for you.
  • Trim your toe nails after you’ve washed and dried your feet.
  • Cut them straight across and smooth with an emery board.
  • Do not cut into the corners of your toe nails as that may cause them to become ingrown.

Wear Shoes and Socks

  • Do not walk around barefoot, even inside, since you might step on something that could injure your feet.
  • Always wear some type of sock to help avoid developing blisters.
  • Always check the inside of your shoes before putting them on to make sure there are no loose stones or pebbles (or spiders!) and that the lining is smooth.
  • Wear shoes that are properly fitted and in good shape.

Protect Your Feet from Hot and Cold

As with all matters relating to diabetes balance is the key. Protecting your feet from temperature extremes keeps them healthy.

  • Wear shoes or sandals at the beach or when walking on hot pavement.
  • If you spend time in the sun, be sure to use sun screen on the tops of your feet to keep them from getting burned or blistered.
  • Keep feet away from radiators, open fires or space heaters.
  • Don’t use hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.
  • If your feet get cold at night wear socks or booties.
  • If you spend time outside in cold weather be sure to check your feet for frostbite.

 Keep the Blood Flowing to Your Feet

  • Elevate your feet if you sit for long periods of time.
  • Wiggle your toes for two – five minutes at least three times a day. This helps improve the blood flow to your feet and helps keep them healthy.
  • Do not cross your legs for long periods of time.
  • Do not wear garters, elastic bands or tight socks that may reduce the blood flow to your feet.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking reduces the blood flow to the extremities.

Be More Active

Physical activity is probably the single best thing you can do to improve your health.

  • Work with your health care provider to develop an activity schedule that is right for you.
  • Avoid activities such as running or jumping that are hard on the feet.
  • Wear athletic shoes that fit well and socks.

Start Your Foot Care Regime Today

  • Set a regular time of day to conduct your foot care and stick to it.
  • Set a schedule to purchase the items you need for proper foot care.

Tips for Proper Fitting of Foot Wear

  • Athletic shoes are a good option for every day wear because they usually have good support and proper construction.
  • Never wear vinyl or plastic shoes because they don’t stretch or breathe.
  • Women should avoid high heels, platform shoes or very pointy toed shoes which can pinch, cause uneven walking and create a host of other problems.
  • Have your shoes properly fitted by a shoe salesman. Make sure that they aren’t too tight and you have plenty of room for your toes.
  • Periodically have your foot size re-measured. Sometimes feet grow or get wider with age.
  • You may need special shoes or shoe inserts. Check with your doctor to see if Medicare or your health insurance will pay for them.

For more extensive information on diabetes related foot problems