If you have diabetes, it can be tempting to ignore your feet, especially if they’re feeling okay. But when your feet are okay is exactly the right time to head off problems. Protect and inspect every day!
Below, our medical specialists from the Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute, offer tips on caring for your feet.
Check your feet daily
Look at and feel the top and bottom of your feet every day. Why? You may not feel an injury if you have nerve damage. Check for blisters, cracks, cuts, bruises, swelling or tender areas. Also, look for areas that are warm, red or draining. If you can’t do it yourself, use a mirror and ask a family member to help you. Also, it’s a good idea to have your doctor check your feet at every office visit.
Practice good hygiene
Bathe your feet in lukewarm (rather than hot) water; dry with a soft, clean towel; moisturize your feet (but not on the nails or in between the toes so as to prevent infection); and use a mild soap to protect sensitive areas of skin. Trim nails after a bath when they are softer. If you have corns, calluses or ingrown toenails, see your doctor or a podiatrist. Do not use corn and callus removers or perform “home surgery.”
Being active is great for your overall health, lowers blood glucose and helps keep blood pumping throughout your entire body, especially your feet and hands.
Don’t go barefoot
It’s tempting to go barefoot in Florida with our warmer temperatures. But even a simple injury like a stubbed toe can lead to a foot ulcer or other complication. Keep a pair of slippers by your bed, and always wear something on your feet even when you’re inside.
Keep your blood glucose under control
Be aware of blood glucose levels and maintain healthy diabetes habits. Stay within targeted blood glucose levels your healthcare provider recommends. The American Diabetes Association recommends that blood glucose levels be less than 130 mg/dl fasting and before meals less than 180 mg/dl two hours after meals.
This one’s pretty easy. Not only is smoking horrible for your health, but it also restricts blood flow in the feet and body.
Treat wounds right away
Early intervention is key. Clean the area with soap and water and cover with a bandage or dry dressing. If there’s no improvement or any drainage after a day, call your doctor right away. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. If an infection is left untreated even for a short time, you may need oral antibiotics, and if it becomes serious, it can lead to hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics or surgery. In the worst cases, untreated foot infections can lead to amputations.