Our doctors have extensive training in managing complications associated with diabetes. These complications can be severe, even a small cut could have serious consequences. Often diabetes will damage nerves of the lower extremities, creating a feeling of numbness in the feet. Additionally, blood flow is compromised by changes in the blood vessels, making it difficult to heal injury or resist an infection. Because of these problems, a small object may go unnoticed in a shoe, which can then cause a blister to develop, followed by a sore, then a stubborn infection that can lead to increased risk of amputation.
1. Inspect feet daily. Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of the feet. Call a podiatrist if you notice anything abnormal. Ask someone for help if self inspection is difficult.
2. Diabetes Control. Work with personal health care team to keep blood glucose in recommended target range.
3. Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and provide protection. Check inside shoes before wearing to make sure there are no objects, and see that the lining is smooth. Always wear socks that are dry and clean. Avoid socks that are thick and bulky or that have a constricting band.
4. Protect feet from extreme temperatures. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don't soak feet in hot water—use a hand to check temperature first or have someone else test to ensure water is only lukewarm. To avoid a burn, never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. If feet are cold at night, wear socks to bed.
5. Trim toenails when needed, straight across and file the edges. Do not trim too short; this can lead to ingrown toenails.
6. Never trim corns and calluses; this can cause infection and bleeding. Schedule an appointment for care of corns and calluses, as ignoring these problems can lead to underlying ulceration.
7. Wash feet daily. Dry by blotting or patting, and make sure to carefully dry between the toes.
8. Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. DO NOT moisturize between the toes—this could encourage a fungal infection or blistering and irritation.
9. Keep the blood flowing. Put feet up when sitting. Wiggle toes and move ankles up and down for five minutes, two to three times a day. Don't cross legs for long periods of time. Don't smoke, as it restricts blood flow.
10. Schedule periodic foot exams. Exams on a regular basis can help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.
11. Be Active. Work with a primary care provider to develop an individual exercise program.