Diabetes is a chronic disease that is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood. It reduces blood flow to the feet, thereby reducing the body’s ability to fight infections and promote healing on the feet. In addition, diabetes damages nerves causing a person to lose feeling in their feet.
Diabetic foot care is an important part of achieving and maintaining good health for persons with diabetes. It is also an important factor in preventing serious health problems that are associated with diabetes. Proper diabetic foot care can be achieved by following these guidelines…
Check your feet every day. See Dr. Burmeister on a regular basis.
Healthy feet rely on prevention and maintenance. If unnoticed or untreated, dry or cracked skin, redness, sores, swelling, cuts, scratches, blisters, ingrown or infected toenails, or bruises can lead to foot ulcers, serious infections, and even amputation. They can also be the first signs of more serious medical concerns. If you are unable to do visual inspections of your own feet, ask for assistance from a friend or family member.
Practice routine proper foot hygiene.
Feet should be thoroughly washed in warm water with mild soap and patted dried every day. Unscented lotion or cream should be used on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Clean and dry shoes should be worn and rotated regularly. Clean white socks will not only keep your feet dry but will also show drainage from openings that might not be felt or easily seen during a self-inspection. Change socks daily.
Practice routine proper nail care as needed.
Toenails should be cut straight across, never shorter than the end of your toes. Sharp edges should be filed. Improperly trimmed nails can cause ingrown toenails and infection.
Never walk barefoot. Wear the right shoes and socks for your feet at all times.
Shoes should provide protection, comfort, and support. They should be activity and weather appropriate. Choose shoes that are at least as wide as your feet with roomy toe boxes that have extra space at the end of your longest toe. They should have arch supports; low heels that are closed; smooth linings with no inside seams; uppers made of stiff, breathable material; rubber soles; and room for your socks of choice. Socks should be made of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, or a cotton-wool blend. You should always check inside your shoes before you wear them.
Do not expose your feet to extreme hot and cold temperatures.
If your feet are cold, do not use heating pads, electric blankets, or hot water bottles to warm them. Instead, wear socks to keep your feet warm. Before getting in a bath or shower, test the water temperature with your elbow rather than your foot.
Consider wearing prescription shoes or custom orthotics to provide protection, arch support, improved foot function, and shock absorption.
Medicare may provide coverage for all or part of the cost of prescription shoes. Consult with Dr. Burmeister to determine if custom orthotics or prescription footwear may be of benefit to you.
Keep the blood flowing to your feet.
Elevate your feet when you are sitting or lying down. If you have to sit for a long period of time, stretch and move your toes and ankles. Take walks. Avoid wearing socks with ridges or elastic at the top as well as anything else that is tight on your legs other than prescribed compression stockings. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed at the knees.
Take steps to care for your diabetes and to improve your overall health.
Check your blood sugar according to your healthcare provider’s instructions to keep your glucose levels within your target range. Participate in daily physical activity, eat for good health, and maintain a healthy weight. Do not smoke.
Do not practice self-care for injuries or conditions on your feet. Contact and consult with Dr. Burmeister immediately if you notice:
- wounds or sores on your feet;
- changes in the shape or color (especially the appearance of redness or blackness)of any part of your foot;
- cracked skin, calluses, corns, bunions, hammertoes, or ingrown toenails;
- an infection; or
- an increase in numbness or pain in your feet.
Since diabetics are very likely to have problems with their feet, a podiatrist is an important member of their healthcare team. Dr. Burmeister and the staff at Jacksonville Foot and Laser will provide the proper diabetic foot care necessary for those with diabetes to lead full and enriched lives.