If a doctor has ever said you had an elevated blood sugar level — even just once when you were pregnant — you are at risk for diabetes. About 25 million people have the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Nervous system impairment (neuropathy) is a major complication that may cause you to lose feeling in your feet or hands. This means you won’t know right away if you hurt yourself. The problem affects about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes.
Diabetes and wounds can be a frightening combination. Some patients with diabetes develop foot ulcers. A foot ulcer is prone to infection, which may become severe. Having your feet regularly examined and treated is very important to prevent infection and possible gangrene.
Hygiene and Nail Care
Proper hygiene and nail care are important for people with diabetes to eliminate any chance of infection. Examples of proper hygiene and nail care include thoroughly washing and drying feet on a daily basis, examining the tops and bottoms of feet for any cuts, cracks, or blisters, checking for ingrown toenails, and wearing proper footwear.
- Do not smoke.
Smoking decreases the blood supply to your feet.
- Never walk barefoot.
This goes for inside as well as outside.
- Examine your feet daily for redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts, and nail problems from shoes or other sources.
Look at the bottom of your feet and between the toes. Use a mirror or have someone else look for you.
- Call your doctor immediately if you experience any injury to your foot.
Even a minor injury is an emergency for a patient with diabetes.
- Examine the inside of your shoes—look and feel—for foreign objects, protruding nails, and rough spots before putting them on.
- Buy shoes late in the day.
Never buy shoes that need “breaking in.” They should be immediately comfortable. Request shoes with deep toe boxes and shoes made of leather or other flexible upper material.
- Do not wear new shoes for more than two hours at a time.
Rotate your shoes. Don’t wear the same ones every day.
- Lubricate your entire foot if your skin is dry; but avoid putting cream between your toes.
South Shore Foot and Ankle carries lubricants specifically for our Diabetic patients.
- Keep feet away from heat sources (heating pads, hot water bottles, electric blankets, radiators, fireplaces, etc.)
You can burn your feet without knowing it. Water temperature should be less than 92 degrees. Estimate the temperature with your elbow or bath thermometer (you can get one in any store that sells infant products).
- Do not file down, remove or shave calluses or corns yourself.
These should be taken care of by your podiatrist.
- Do not use any chemicals or strong antiseptic solutions for your feet.
Iodine, salicylic acid, corn/callus removers and hydrogen peroxide are potentially dangerous.
- See a podiatrist (like Dr. Grundy!) to trim your toenails.
- Don’t wear stockings or socks with tight elastic backs and do not use garters.
Wear only light-colored socks and do not wear any socks with holes. Always wear socks with your shoes.
- In the winter, wear wool socks and protective footwear.
Avoid getting your feet wet in the snow and rain and avoid letting toes get cold.
- Talk with your doctor.
If the circulation in your feet is impaired, tell your medical doctor so they can take this into account when prescribing medication for high blood pressure or heart disease.