November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. As many diabetics know too well, diabetes can be very dangerous to your feet. Because of reduced blood flow, injuries may be harder to heal, and infections harder to resist. Nerve damage may reduce feeling to the feet making it hard to notice irritations leading to blisters developing. Taking good care of your feet is one of the keys to staying healthy. See the tips below adapted from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
- Get periodic foot exams – Seeing your physician on a regular basis can help prevent many of the foot complications related to diabetes.
- Inspect your feet daily – Check your feet for cuts, blisters, redness and swelling. Contact your doctor if you notice any of these or other irregularities.
- Wash your feet in lukewarm water, not hot, and with a soft washcloth or sponge – Only lukewarm water should be used, but feet should be washed daily. A soft washcloth or sponge will prevent irritation or injury. Gently pat dry with a soft towel.
- Moisturize, but not in between toes – Daily moisturizing will keep skin from itching or cracking. Avoid moisturizing between the toes, however, as this can encourage fungal infection.
- Keep nails trimmed – Cut your toenails carefully and straight across. File any edges and avoid cutting nails too short, which can lead to ingrown toenails.
- Don’t treat corns or calluses yourself – Self “surgery” is not recommended, nor is the use of medicated pads. Visit your doctor for any of these issues.
- Avoid smoking – Smoking restricts blood flow, which will increase the chance of damage to your feet.
- Keep shoes clear of debris – Foreign objects, no matter how small, inside of shoes can be a major source of irritation. Always inspect shoes before putting them on.
- Keep your diabetes in check – Watch your blood sugar levels and keep them in control.
- Never walk barefoot – Always wear shoes or slippers, even at home. Doing so will prevent injury from scratches or cuts.
- Always keep feet warm and dry – Don’t let your feet get wet in snow or rain and always wear warm socks and shoes in the winter.
- Wear socks to bed – To prevent cold feet during the night, wear your socks to bed. Avoid using heating pads or hot water bottles.
- Wear clean, dry socks – Be sure to change them daily.
- Avoid wearing the wrong type of socks – Avoid tight elastic bands. Thick or bulky socks can fit poorly and irritate the skin. Try SmartKnit Diabetic Socks. Our socks are seamless and form fitting, which help to prevent blister-causing pressure points. Moisture wicking fibers keep feet dry reducing friction, which can cause irritation.
** Note: Tips are not meant to replace medical advice. Always consult with your doctor.