The elevated blood sugar levels associated with diabetes mellitus cause a range of complications. Between one-third and one-half of diabetics will suffer from peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that typically affects the feet and legs. Combined with the reduced circulation that also affects diabetics, peripheral neuropathy means that even minor foot issues can quickly become medical emergencies, possibly even leading to amputation. For this reason, diabetic foot care should be high on the list of diabetic self-care.
A study at the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care in Indianapolis showed that diabetics who practiced proper foot care were nearly 60% less likely to have a serious foot problem than those who did not.
Diabetics should follow these ten tips to make sure their feet get the care they need to keep them healthy.
- Check your feet, including the bottoms and between the toes, every day. If you can’t see a part of your feet properly, use a mirror, or ask someone else to check for you.
Issues to lookout for during this daily check include:
Blisters; corns; calluses; athletes foot; red spots; ingrown toenails; cuts; cracks in the skin; swelling; unusual odor; changes in how the foot looks, whether in color or shape; changes in how the foot feels, including tingling, numbness, warmth, or burning.
- Never use over-the-counter medications to treat a foot problem. Diabetic feet are very sensitive, and these products may irritate rather than cure the problem. See your doctor instead.
- Wash and your dry feet every day.
- Be sure to dry between your toes especially well, since residual moisture between the toes can lead to a fungal infection.
- Moisturize the tops and bottoms of feet.
- Use talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes to keep those areas dry.
- Always wear socks and shoes. Going barefoot — even at home — or wearing shoes without socks can lead to cuts and other injuries that are dangerous for the diabetic foot.
- Make sure socks are always dry and clean. Change them daily, at minimum. Change them more frequently if they become wet, or even sweaty.
- Encourage circulation to your feet by elevating them whenever you’re sitting.
- Do not cross your legs for any extended period of time.
- Most importantly, keep your blood sugar under control. While this is not technically a foot care issue, it blood sugar regulation affects every aspect of a diabetic’s health.
Following these tips will keep diabetics on their feet for years to come.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.