10 tips for healthy feet for those with diabetes
If you have diabetes, it is critical for you to be aware and examine your feet on a daily basis. You should seek treatment right away if you injure your foot or notice an open wound, ingrown toe nail, or any sign of infection to your feet.
Signs of infection include redness, swelling, malodor (foul smell), drainage, and pain. Many diabetic patients experience a condition called peripheral neuropathy which can cause numbness, tingling, and burning to the feet. Lack of sensation can delay diagnosis and treatment of serious foot conditions that can lead to diabetic foot ulcers, infection, and amputation.
Schedule an appointment with a podiatrist annually for a diabetic foot exam. If you have a specific foot condition then you should see your podiatrist as advised. Proper and safe care of toe nails, corns, and calluses can be provided by a podiatrist. Medicare covers routine foot care and surveillance specifically for diabetic patients.
How to keep your feet healthy…
- Examine your feet daily. If you are unable to reach your feet use a mirror or ask someone for help.
- Take control of your diabetes. Work with your primary care doctor and/or endocrinologist to keep your blood sugars within your target range.
- Increase your activity. Ask your health care team to help you plan an exercise routine tailored for you.
- Protect your feet at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear socks and well-fitted shoes or slippers that protect your feet. You should have a thumbs-width from your longest toe to the end of the shoe when standing. Check inside your shoes to ensure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
- Ask your podiatrist about insurance coverage for diabetic shoes.
- Avoid hot and cold temperatures. Check water temperature with your hands before putting your feet in water. Avoid using heated blankets, hot water bottles, and heating pads. Avoid resting near hot radiators in the home.
- Promote blood flow to your feet. Elevate your feet, rotate your ankles, and flex your knees when inactive for long periods. Avoid crossing your legs. Ask your podiatrist if you would benefit from compression socks. Avoid smoking.
- Wash your feet daily and make sure to dry between your toes.
- Keep your skin soft and smooth. Apply a thin layer of lotion to the top and bottom of your feet daily, but not in between your toes.
- Get started now!Begin taking good care of your feet today. Set aside time every day to check your feet. Make an appointment with a podiatrist to examine your feet and avoid possibly dangerous foot conditions.
About the Author
Dr. Anna Gurrera is a podiatrist on staff at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill with an office in Lake Zurich. She received her foot and ankle medical and surgical residency training at Rush University Medical Center.