If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you likely understand that your focus should not be on reacting to the consequences that may arise as much as taking preventative action to keep those consequences from developing in the first place.
Great emphasis is placed on overall care, including regulating your blood sugar levels, maintaining a proper diet, and engaging in exercise—and that emphasis should absolutely be there! However, there are also more area-specific forms of maintenance to focus on, and diabetic foot care is one of the most important.
The effects of diabetes can take a slow, gradual, yet terrible toll on your feet over time. Fortunately, the steps you can take to help avoid these issues do not require a huge investment of time or effort, and can be pretty easy to work into your daily routine.
So, what is it you should be doing as part of your diabetic foot care?
Diabetic foot care should be a daily duty, and it should start today.
It doesn’t matter if your feet look and feel like they are in perfect health right now. We certainly hope they are, but diabetes has a way of creeping its effects in so slowly over time, you don’t realize something is amiss until there is a problem.
The feet are in a particularly perilous position when it comes to these effects, too. The capability of diabetes to impede both circulation and nerve health tend to be especially consequential to the feet for a couple big reasons.
First, a lack of circulation tends to affect the feet first, as they are the farthest part of the body from the heart. A reduction of blood flow means a lower capability for healing. Cuts take longer to close, and sometimes won’t close at all without some form of medical intervention.
Second, the loss of nerves in the feet can lead to a lack of sensation. When an injury happens, you might not even register that it occurred.
When the situation becomes bad enough, a cut on the foot could go unnoticed. As you continue to walk on it, it opens further, turning into a deep ulcer. The chances of infection rise, and with infection can come a severe threat to your foot, your lower limb, or even your life.
We don’t say this to scare you, however. Because the truth is that such situations can be easily avoided just by placing a little focus on your feet.
Caring for your feet is not complicated, but it does ask you to pay just a little attention each day. Here are some of the main tenets of diabetic foot care that any person with diabetes should be following:
A daily diabetic foot exam is the best habit you can develop as part of a diabetic foot care plan. It is practically essential.
All that is asked out of a self-exam is to take a few moments to look over your feet for signs of any problems. We are referring to cuts, sores, discolorations, warts, calluses, corns—really anything that just should not be there.
Although your feet may appear in tip-top condition right now, you want to catch any potential problems as early in development as possible.
If you see something, that is your cue to give us a call and let us know what’s going on. This is important for several reasons:
• If we sense this is a problem that needs a closer look or immediate attention, we can get you in right away!
• Even if it’s not something we need you to come in for, we can advise on how to best and most safely address it.
• We will have a record of problems that we can consult when looking for trends. If we find problem areas, we can recommend ways to help prevent them from becoming worse.
All you need is a few convenient minutes each day. Coming out of the shower or getting out of or into bed are prime opportunities to schedule your self-inspections. The better you know your own feet, the better you will be able to detect when something is amiss.
As much as you can avoid it, keep your feet from drying out. Dry skin can lead to cracked skin, and you already know that damage to your feet can lead to more trouble over time.
A simple moisturizer is likely all you need for effective results, and many are made with diabetic foot care in mind. Feel free to avoid lots of superfluous fragrances and such. In fact, extra ingredients like that can sometimes cause irritation, so be mindful.
The best time to moisturize is when your feet have already been wet a bit, so post-shower time is once again a good move. Apply a thin layer of moisturizer over your feet, but do not place any between your toes. It’s easy for excess moisture to get trapped here and become a breeding ground for fungus. If you are having skin problems between your toes, let us know. We can help.
The more you protect your feet against injury and irritation, the better.
This might mean not running around everywhere barefoot for one, but it can also mean wearing socks and shoes designed to reduce the potential for problems as much as possible.
Diabetic shoes and socks are designed especially for preventing potential problems, eliminating irritating seams and providing support. If additional support may be needed, such as due to an abnormality in your internal foot structure, we may recommend custom orthotics to fill that need.
The best diabetic foot care will take stock in what you can do today to help achieve a more comfortable and mobile tomorrow. We are here to help all of our patients on that path, both with things they can do at home and with periodic evaluations to identify anything that might be missed.