How Can You Avoid Problems With Your Diabetic Feet?
Diabetes causes your blood sugar levels to be higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your body.People with diabetes often have trouble with their feet. Part of the problem is that the loss of feeling in your feet makes it hard for you to tell if you have a blister or sore. If little sores aren't taken care of, they can get worse and turn into ulcers (serious, deep sores). If these ulcers become infected, you may have to go to the hospital or, in very serious cases, have a foot amputated (removed). This handout will give you some tips on how to care for your feet.
The estimated 20 million Americans with diabetes need to remember that simple foot care can reduce their risk of toe, foot or leg amputations, say experts at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).
People with diabetes are 10 times more likely to have a lower limb amputated than people who don't have the illness, which can cause poor blood circulation and nerve damage in the feet. This makes feet more vulnerable to ulcers, infections, deformities and brittle bones.
Keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. Also, follow your doctor's advice on diet, exercise and medicine. Here are some other ways to protect your feet.
The following foot care tips for people with diabetes:
- Inspect feet daily for injuries that could lead to dangerous ulcers.
- Gently wash feet in lukewarm -- not hot -- water.
- Moisturize feet but avoid the areas between the toes.
- Never trim corns or calluses. Doing so can lead to serious infections.
- Inspect the inside of shoes before you put them on.
- At the first sign of trouble, see a doctor. Early treatment can prevent foot problems from worsening and reduce the risk of amputations.
- Dry your feet well, especially between the toes. Use a soft towel and pat gently; don't rub.
- Keep the skin of your feet smooth by applying a cream or lanolin lotion, especially on the heels. If the skin is cracked, talk to your doctor about how to treat it.
- Keep your feet dry by dusting them with nonmedicated powder before putting on shoes, socks or stockings.
- Check your feet every day. You may need a mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet. Call your doctor at the very first sign of redness, swelling, pain that doesn't go away, or numbness or tingling in any part of your foot.
- Cut toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. It might help to soak your toenails in warm water to soften them before you cut them.
- Don't let your feet get too hot or too cold.
- Don't go barefoot.