If you are diabetic, you should be inspecting your feet daily. You should seek care early if you have a foot injury or notice an open wound, ingrown toenail, or any signs of infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, malodor (foul smell), pain, and drainage. Many diabetic patients experience a condition called peripheral neuropathy which can cause decreased protective sensation, tingling, and burning to the feet. Lack of sensation to the feet may delay diagnosis and treatment of serious foot conditions. Therefore, it is critical to be aware and examine your feet daily.
Schedule an appointment with your podiatrist at least once per year for a diabetic foot exam. If you have foot problems then you should see your podiatrist as advised. If you have corns or calluses, your podiatrist can trim them for you. Your podiatrist can also trim your toenails if you cannot do so safely. Medicare covers routine palliative foot care and examination specifically for diabetic patients to prevent foot complications.
Tips to keep your feet healthy…
- Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood sugars within your target range.
- Be more active. Plan a physical fitness or walking routine with your health care team.
- Examine your feet daily. If you are unable to reach your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
- Wash your feet daily. Dry them carefully, especially between your toes.
- Keep your skin soft and smooth. Apply a thin layer of lotion to the top and bottom of your feet daily, but not between your toes.
- Wear socks and shoes at all times. Never walk barefoot or just in socks, Wear well-fitted shoes that protect your feet. You should have a thumbs-width from your longest toe to the end of the shoe when standing. Check inside your shoes to ensure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside that may harm your skin.
- Ask your doctor about diabetic shoes with inserts. These are available in our office. You can also use this guide to find the right diabetic shoe.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold. Do not put your feet in hot water. Avoid using heated blankets, hot water bottles, and heating pads. Stay clear of hot radiators in the home. Wear shoes at the beach and on hot pavement.
- Improve the circulation of your feet. Put your feet up when resting. Rotate your ankles and flex your knees when inactive for long periods. Avoid crossing your legs for extended periods. Ask your podiatrist if you would benefit from compression socks. Avoid smoking.
- Get started now! Begin taking good care of your feet today. Set aside time every day to check your feet. Make an appointment with your podiatrist to have your feet examined and possible avoid a dangerous foot condition.