Diabetes Foot Care

Why your feet next extra TLC when you have diabetes

Diabetes—type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes alike—can cause numerous complications in feet, so aggressive diabetes foot care is critical. If you are vigilant about diabetes foot care, you can prevent pain, infections, and surgery.

foot care

Diabetic foot problems all connect back to poor blood glucose control. If you don't have good blood glucose control, then you are more likely to develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy—nerve problems caused by diabetes.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is what leads to foot problems: the nerves in your feet are damaged by diabetes and don't work properly. They don't send pain messages to your brain, so you can injure your foot or develop an infection and not know it—unless you are taking good care of your feet.

Poor blood circulation can also contribute to foot problems, so taking good care of your heart health also has benefits for your feet. Controlling high blood pressure and kicking the tobacco habit are important factors in keeping your feet (and your whole body) healthy.

Daily and Weekly Diabetes Foot Care
You need to establish a daily ritual of inspecting, washing, drying, and applying lotion to your feet.

The first part of that ritual is testing the water's temperature with your elbow as you begin to fill the tub or wash basin. Your elbow will be more sensitive to heat than your feet and hands, so it will help you avoid burning your feet.

Fill the tub or basin with warm water, and then wash your feet with mild soap. Rinse and dry your feet, then begin your inspection. You are searching for:

  • blisters
  • dry skin
  • calluses
  • scratches and puncture wounds
  • redness
  • ulcers
  • excessive warmth
  • discoloration
  • ingrown nails and other nail problems
  • flaking skin

If you find any of these complications with your feet, visit your foot doctor (podiatrist).

Frequent Foot Doctor Visits for Diabetes Care
You need to have a dedicated foot doctor to provide your diabetes foot care. Podiatrists are a good option. 

You should have an annual foot care visit, even if you do not have any diabetes foot complications.

However, if you start to develop tingling in your feet, lose sensitivity in your feet, or experience other diabetes-related complications, you should start to see your diabetes foot care doctor every 2 to 3 months.

Diabetes Foot Care Hints
There are some behaviors you should remember and adopt to help you prevent diabetes foot complications. They include:

  • Avoid walking with bare feet.
  • Have your doctor teach you how to cut your toenails straight across.
  • Never cut or shave calluses. Leave that to your podiatrist.
  • Wear white socks so you are more likely to detect an injury by seeing the blood on your sock.
  • Purchase and wear diabetes-specific shoes and/or inserts. See a pedorthist (a doctor who specializes in custom fitting therapeutic shoes) for the best fit.
  • Break in new shoes by wearing them a for a few minutes a day when you first get them.

Diabetes foot care requires watchfulness and discipline. However, if you are committed and you work with your foot doctor, you will be able to identify and stop any small complications. This will help you avoid larger diabetes foot complications.

Updated on: December 10, 2015
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