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Why is Foot Care Important for Diabetics?

As a diabetic, it is especially important that you care for your feet properly and pay attention to any changes that occur. High blood glucose levels can cause damage to the nerves that lead to your feet (also known as diabetic neuropathy). When the nerves are damaged it is possible to develop wounds on your feet that go unnoticed. These wounds can lead to serious infection and possibly amputation. Taking the proper steps to care for your feet can prevent this from happening.

 

How should I care for my feet properly?

In order to prevent this from happening there are several steps you can take that will allow you to keep your feet healthy. According to the American Diabetes Association you should:

  • Frequently check your blood glucose. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
  • Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
  • Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health team.
  • Ask your doctor about coverage for special shoes.
  • Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
  • Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
  • If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
  • Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
  • Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don't put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
  • Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, two (2) or three (3) times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time. Smoking also reduces the circulation to your feet so avoid smoking.

 

What Should I do if I see a foot wound?

The most important thing to do if you see a wound is to immediately make an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP). Until you can see your PCP keep the wound as clean as possible. Depending on the type of wound, this may involve applying an antibiotic ointment and covering with sterile gauze. It is also important that you notify your PCP of any changes in size and color or if there is any discharge from the wound.