Foot complications are a very serious and common problem for people with Diabetes. Over time, the likelihood of nerve damage and circulation problems increase, which adds to the risk of foot complications. Nerve damage impairs your ability to feel foreign objects, rough seams or other irritants in your shoe. Circulation problems make it harder to heal from injury and resist infection. One of the most important steps you can take in preventing foot complications is to develop a daily foot care routine.
Five Daily Foot Care Tips for Diabetes
1. Thoroughly wash and dry your feet every day
Using warm water and mild soap, wash your feet every day. Be sure to dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes
2. Inspect both feet; top and bottom!
Look at your feet and take note of any changes to the skin: redness, cracks, blisters, cuts, bruises or other changes. Use a small mirror to see the bottom of your feet or ask someone to check them for you.
3. Inspect and maintain your toenails
Check your toenails daily for cracks, ingrown toenails, thickening, discoloration or any other changes. Keep toenails trimmed straight across and file any sharp edges. Don’t trim nails too short.
4. Moisturize soles and heels
Apply lotion to the soles and heels of your feet. Avoid putting lotion between the toes, as excessive moisture can cause fungus and other infections.
5. Wear clean, light-coloured socks and well-fitting shoes
Whenever possible, choose light-coloured socks. If you develop a cut or a blister, the drainage is noticeable on light-coloured socks versus darker options. Avoid socks with tight elastic or thick seams. Always check the inside of your shoes for foreign objects and wear well-fitting shoes appropriate for your daily activities.
Foot Care Guidelines for Diabetic Patients
In addition to the 5 basic tips for daily foot care listed above, there are a few additional “Do’s and Don’ts” for taking care of your feet:
A. See a professional for corn, callus or wart removal.
B. Wear shoes or slippers while indoors. Footwear helps protect the feet against minor foot injury.
C. Wear socks to bed if your feet are cold
D. Exercise regularly to maintain good circulation
E. Elevate your feet and legs when sitting
F. See your Pedorthist for advice on the right shoes and off-loading insole for you.
A. Using over the counter medications for corns and warts. These can be dangerous for people with Diabetes
B. Going barefoot, even indoors. Consider buying a well-fitting shoe for indoor use, or choose a supportive slipper
C. Using a heating pad on your feet. Even minor nerve damage can affect your ability to sense temperature and increase the risk for burns.
D. Smoking. Smoking decreases circulation and impairs wound healing. Smoking is a significant risk factor in amputation in people with Diabetes
E. Sitting with your legs or ankles crossed for long periods
F. Wearing over the counter insoles in your shoes. These devices can cause blisters or other issues if they are not right for your feet.
The Importance of Regular Foot Exams
Regular foot exams are an important part of maintaining your overall health. For people living with diabetes, regular examination and screening assists with early detection of problems and allows for the appropriate interventions to be initiated as early as possible. During these exams, your foot specialist will assess nerve function, blood flow, joint ranges of motion, muscular strength and overall physical state of your feet. Your foot specialist will be able to make specific recommendations for optimizing your foot health based on your individual needs.
To book a comprehensive foot assessment or to learn more about daily foot care tips and guidelines for living with diabetes, contact the team of certified Pedorthists at SoleScience for an appointment at the clinic nearest you. For more information and additional resources, visit Diabetes Canada.