Diabetes can lead to complications, including diabetic foot problems that significantly impact one’s quality of life. In fact, nearly 10-15% of diabetic patients develop a foot ulcer that doesn’t heal, with up to 24% requiring amputation. However, the good news is that you can reduce your risk of diabetic foot ulcers by up to 50% through regular foot care and routine exams.
Without checkups and exams, injuries can be hard to detect because diabetes can damage nerves in your feet (neuropathy). This lack of sensation makes it hard to feel wounds or sore spots. Furthermore, diabetes can make it harder for minor injuries to heal because diabetes affects blood flow. When minor injuries don’t heal, they can lead to serious health problems.
To safeguard against these risks, taking care of your feet is essential. Here are some crucial guidelines to keep your feet healthy at home.
How to take care of your feet at home with diabetes
These tips can help you care for your feet:
- Check your feet daily, even between the toes, for problems such as swelling, redness, and blisters. Swollen feet with diabetes can signify a health complication. It also looks for cracks, dry skin, or numbness. To examine the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask for help. Try to check your feet at the same time each day.<Also, check your ankles and lower legs for any changes. With diabetes, ankles can become swollen due to one of several complications of diabetes. Let your doctor know when you spot an abnormality on your feet, ankles, and lower legs.
- Wash your feet daily with lukewarm water and mild soap. Check the water temperature before putting your foot in the water. Avoid soaking your feet, as it can lead to excessive dryness, increasing the risk of cracking. Afterward, dry feet well, especially between the toes, to prevent fungus.
- Moisturize your feet regularly to prevent dry skin, but avoid applying lotion between the toes. Moisture between the toes can lead to fungal growth.
- Trim your toenails straight across with good nail clippers. Avoid cutting too close to the skin or into the corners, which may cause ingrown toenails. If you have difficulty trimming your nails, ask a foot specialist for help.
- Always wear shoes, even indoors, to protect your feet from injuries and infections. Keep a pair of shoes by your bed to easily slip on whenever you get up. Opt for comfortable, properly fitting shoes with good support. Avoid high heels and narrow, pointed shoes that can cause pressure points, calluses, blisters, or corns.
- Wear socks to keep your feet dry. Wet or moist feet from sweat can promote fungal growth. Untreated fungus can lead to cracks and wounds.
- Don’t treat ingrown toenails, corns, or calluses yourself. Talk with your provider or foot doctor (podiatrist) if you need help trimming your toenails. For corns and calluses, discuss with your podiatrist the best diabetic foot procedures or non-invasive treatments.
- Don’t use heating pads on your feet. If you have nerve damage (neuropathy), you could burn your feet and not feel it.
- Stop smoking. Smoking limits blood flow, making it harder for wounds to heal.
- Manage your diabetes. Check and control your blood sugar and cholesterol to reduce the risk of nerve damage and poor blood flow. Take all your medicines as prescribed, and call your provider if you have trouble controlling your blood sugar.
- Schedule regular checkups with your foot doctor. Even though you may check your feet daily, a doctor should examine your feet annually, at minimum. They may detect issues in their early stages that only a trained eye or special equipment can spot.
Why You Should Have Regular Checkups With Your Podiatrist
Foot problems and skin problems can happen fast. That’s why you should follow your healthcare team’s schedule for checkups. They will likely ask you to schedule an annual visit at a minimum. You may need to have checkups more often if you have neuropathy.
Regular checkups can also help keep track of the blood flow and feeling in your feet. In some cases, you may have a decrease in blood flow to your feet. Lack of blood flow can indicate peripheral artery disease (PAD) and atherosclerosis. As a result, your provider may refer you to a vascular or vein specialist to manage symptoms and prevent your condition from worsening.
|Have your feet checked every time you see your healthcare provider, and at least once a year.|
Make Sure Shoes and Socks Fit
Any pair of shoes—new or old—should feel comfortable as soon as you put them on. There shouldn’t be any rubbing when you walk. Wear the right shoe for any activity. For instance, running shoes are meant to keep your feet free from injury while you jog.
To make sure your shoes will always fit, buy shoes at the end of the day when your feet are larger from typical swelling. Check that your shoes provide support without feeling too loose, and check that your socks fit, too. Avoid tight-fitting socks and garters that can restrict blood flow.
Always wear soft, seamless, and well-padded socks. Cotton or microfiber socks are best because they help absorb sweat and dry your feet. If you have cold feet at night, wear your socks to bed. Never use a heating pad, electric blanket, or hot water bottle for warmth.
To protect your feet, don’t wear open-toed or open-heeled shoes. You will also want to check your shoes for small rocks or sharp objects before you put them on. Talk with your healthcare team if you have questions about what kinds of shoes and socks are best.
You may also consider investing in diabetic shoes designed to reduce pressure and provide adequate support and cushioning. In addition to support and cushion, diabetic shoes have extra depth to make room for any inserts. Because of their design, the specialized shoes can help prevent foot ulcers and other complications.
Control Your Blood Sugar
The best way to take care of diabetic feet is first to manage your diabetes. You can take simple measures at home to reduce your diabetes symptoms.
One essential step is to monitor your blood glucose levels frequently. Frequent monitoring is vital to understand how your body responds to different foods, medications, physical activity, and other factors. It enables you to make necessary adjustments to keep your blood sugar within the target range. You may also want to monitor your blood pressure.
Even if you take measures to treat diabetes and diabetic feet naturally, you should still take prescribed medications as directed. Never reduce your prescribed dosage unless your doctor says it is ok.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Adopting a balanced and healthy diet is crucial in managing blood sugar levels. Focus on consuming whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit the intake of salt, processed foods, sugary beverages, and high-carb meals that can cause blood sugar spikes.
Furthermore, carbohydrates have a significant impact on blood sugar levels. Learn to manage carbohydrate intake by counting carbs or following a carbohydrate-controlled meal plan. This helps maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise helps blood flow in your feet. It also helps make your feet stronger and more flexible. Gentle activities such as walking or riding a stationary bike are best. You can also do special foot exercises.
Talk with your provider before starting any exercise program. Also, tell your provider if exercise causes pain, redness, or other foot problems.
Note: If you have any break in the skin of your foot or ankle, keep the area clean. Then call your healthcare provider, especially if the area doesn’t heal quickly.
Never Ignore Foot Injuries
Even if it’s minor, a foot injury on diabetic feet can become something more serious. If you notice any injuries, cracks, blisters, swelling, or ulcers on your lower body, seek immediate medical attention from your doctor.
Promptly caring for injuries is another highly effective way to prevent ulcers, gangrene, and amputation.
See a Podiatrist for Diabetic Feet at The Surgical Clinic in Tennessee
Podiatrists at The Surgical Clinic provide exceptional diabetic foot and ankle care. Our dedicated team of skilled podiatrists combines expertise, advanced techniques, and personalized treatment plans to ensure the best outcomes for our patients with diabetes.
No matter the podiatric condition, our doctors have the experience and knowledge to offer a comprehensive range of services. From routine checkups to advanced surgical interventions, we provide a holistic approach to addressing your needs.
See a Podiatrist at The Surgical Clinic today!