November is American Diabetes Month. Over 34.2 million Americans live with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, a number that represents roughly 10% of Americans. Many people living with diabetes are asymptomatic and therefore unaware that they are at greater risk for a variety of different ailments. The Centers for Disease Control recommends regular screenings for adults aged 40-70 who are overweight or obese.
The Connection Between Diabetes and Podiatry
Podiatric health issues are a major concern for many living with diabetes. Over time, raised blood sugar can damage sensation in a person’s feet and affect circulation. These factors can lead to issues with healing cuts or sores, cramping, and other foot-related ailments. It’s important for those living with diabetes to follow a regimented foot care schedule to avoid nerve damage, lesions, and amputations.
Caring for Diabetic Feet at Home
While regular visits with a professional podiatrist are necessary for many diabetics, there are many things a person can do to care for their own feet at home.
- Prioritize managing your diabetes. Working with your doctor to keep your blood sugar under control is one of the best ways to prevent podiatric and other related health issues. Depending on your unique situation, diet, exercise, medication, and insulation therapy may be part of your plan.
- Promote blood flow to the feet. Engaging in physical activities that are appropriate for your fitness level can help improve circulation to your feet. Avoid keeping your feet low and in the same position for too long; putting your feet up while resting and avoiding crossing your legs can also help.
- Wear shoes and socks at all times. Because injuries to the foot can be very difficult to heal, it’s important to avoid them at all costs. Limiting time spent barefoot or in socks alone, even while in the house, can help minimize the risk of a stubbed toe, cut, or another kind of injury.
- Examine your feet and wash them daily. Washing and drying your feet thoroughly each day can help reduce your risk of developing an infection. After your feet are completely dry, apply a thin layer of lotion (avoiding the area between the toes) in order to keep them from drying out. Be sure to examine your feet, using a mirror if necessary, in order to keep an eye out for changes.
- Avoid exposing feet to extreme temperatures. Exposure to hot and cold, such as with hot packs and frosty temperatures, can be dangerous for those living with diabetes. This is because many diabetics experience neuropathy, which can limit sensitivity to temperature. You may not notice your feet are burning or freezing when in fact they are.
Visit a Qualified Podiatrist for Diabetic Foot Care
When it comes to nail trimmings, corn, or callus removal, it may be best to enlist the help of a podiatrist who can conduct this care more safely. Our podiatry team in Lake Zurich sees many patients who are living with diabetes for regular care appointments and exams. Visit our website for more information on these appointments and call us today to schedule your visit.