Caring for Your Diabetic Feet
Our physicians are highly experienced in managing foot and ankle conditions resulting from diabetic complications.
Patients who live with diabetes are at higher risk for foot conditions due to peripheral neuropathy, a condition that causes damage to the nerves of the body, especially the legs and the feet. As the result of the nerve damage, patients have more difficulty detecting extreme temperatures and pain, leading to a possible foot injury or infection that the patient may be unaware.
At Essex Union Podiatry, we offer regular and thorough examinations for patients living with diabetes who suffer from peripheral neuropathy. As part of our comprehensive services, we check for high blood pressure and areas of poor circulation as well as noticeable changes in the foot, including broken skin, change in skin color or swelling.
Tips for Keeping Your Feet Clean with Diabetes
When managing diabetes and its side effects, it’s vital to wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm water. Then, you should thoroughly dry your feet and apply moisturizer, keeping cracked feet at bay to avoid infection. In addition, keep toenails neatly trimmed as ingrown toenails can also lead to infection.
Here are some additional tips for diabetics trying to maintain healthy feet:
- Do not walk barefoot to avoid stepping on potentially harmful objects on the floor
- No smoking to avoid reduced blow flow to the lower extremities
- Wear clean and dry socks everyday
- Wear sensible, comfortable shoes
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions that are frequently asked by patients regarding diabetes and foot care:
Q. What are some foot complications in which diabetes can lead?
A. If diabetes is left untreated or poorly managed, feet can pay a hefty price. Foot complications related to diabetes include:
- Poor circulation (peripheral vascular disease) in the feet and legs
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) that results in loss of sensation in the feet and/or formation of hammertoes, bunions and Charcot foot
Q. Should I see a podiatrist if I have diabetes?
A. Diabetes is a disease that affects many different aspects of the body. Including a podiatrist in a team approach to managing diabetes is crucial. Regular foot screenings aid in the prevention of amputation by looking for warning signs, such as:
- Bleeding from calluses and corns
- Changes in skin temperature
- Cracks in dry skin, particularly around the heel
- Ingrown toenails
- Skin color changes
- Slowly healing open sores on the foot
- Swelling in the ankle or foot
- Toenail fungus
Q. How often should diabetics see a podiatrist?
A. In addition to doing a daily self-inspection of the feet, diabetic patients should make it a point to visit the podiatrist at least once a year for a regular screening to ensure feet remain healthy.
Q. What can be done to care for nails between visits?
A. The best course of action is to stay vigilant, checking nails daily for any changes and keeping ingrown toenails at bay. To avoid developing ingrown toenails, patients should:
- Cut toenails after washing, when they’re soft
- Cut straight across the nail and file down edges (do not cut into the corners of the nail)
- Ask a podiatrist for assistance in cutting, if necessary
Q. What can be done for corns/calluses at home between visits?
A. Patients should never attempt to remove calluses, warts or corns by themselves. Over-the-counter products may irritate or burn the skin, causing irreversible damage to the foot. Speak to a podiatrist for instruction on homecare.
Q. Should diabetics wear special shoes?
A. Patients that have their diabetes under control and don’t really suffer from issues with their feet can simply wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes. For patients who do have diabetic foot problems, the following may be recommended:
- Custom shoes made from a mold of each foot
- Healing shoes, which are typically worn while recovering from foot surgery or sores
- In-depth shoes that are ¼- to ½-inch deeper than regular shoes to accommodate deformities, such as hammertoes or calluses
Q. What should diabetics do to care for their feet?
A. Diabetics can properly care for their feet by:
- Exercising regularly to keep a healthy weight and improve circulation
- Inspecting feet and toes daily for bruises, cuts, sores or changes in the toenail
- Maintaining a healthy weight to avoid complications due to obesity
- Not drinking excessively to avoid furthering existing nerve damage or creating new nerve damage
- Not walking barefoot on any surface (even at home) to avoid injury
- Not wearing high heels, pointed-toed shoes or sandals that place excessive pressure on certain parts of the foot, which contributes to joint/bone disorders and diabetic ulcers
- Quitting smoking to avoid problems with circulation
- Washing feet daily with soap and lukewarm water
- Wearing thick, soft socks to avoid creating or agitating skin injuries
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