Diabetic Foot Care
When you have diabetes, you are more likely to have problems with your feet. This means you need to take good care of them. Ask your healthcare provider to check your feet during your regular checkups as well.
What to Do
Follow these tips to help keep your feet healthy:
- Check your feet each day. Inspect the top, sides, soles, heels and between the toes. Call your healthcare provider if cuts, sores, or blisters don’t heal within a few days. Also, contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing redness, warmth and tenderness.
- Wash your feet daily in warm (not hot) water. Use a mild soap and dry them well. Be sure to wash and dry between your toes and do not soak your feet.
- Use a foot cream (or prescription foot cream if that applies to you) each day. This helps prevent dryness and scaling. Do not use lotion between your toes.
- Always wear shoes and/or slippers. Be sure to change your socks daily. Do not walk barefoot (indoors or outdoors).
- Cut your toe nails straight across if you do not have an at risk diabetic foot. If you are unsure if you are an at risk patient, contact your podiatrist. If you do not have a podiatrist, ask your primary care physician or endocrinologist.
- For corns and calluses (firm or hard spots) see a podiatrist (foot doctor). Do not treat yourself.
- If you smoke, STOP. Smoking decreases the blood flow to your feet. If you need help, ask.
What to Watch For
Call your healthcare provider RIGHT AWAY if you find any of these problems:
- Changes in Skin Color: Redness with streaks is often a sign of infection. Darkened skin could mean the tissue is dead. Pale or blue skin could represent poor blood flow.
- Drainage, Bleeding, or Order: White or yellow discharge, bleeding, and/or odor are signs of infection and/or dead tissue.
- Swelling: A swollen foot may be a sign of poor blood flow and/or infection.
- Temperature Changes: Warm spots could represent infection in the feet. Cold feet could represent poor blood flow.
- Changes in Feeling: Numbness, burning, tingling, or lack of feeling may even mean possible nerve damage.
- Ingrown Toenails: Nails that grow into the skin are a sign that your shoes are ill fitted or that your nails are cut poorly (or too close to the skin).
- Sores and Ulcers: A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that is commonly located on the bottom of the foot due to infection or other ulcer related complications. Look for redness, drainage and swelling as ulcers and/or sores are often not painful.
Exercise your Feet
Exercise helps keep blood flowing to your feet. It also helps keep your feet more flexible.
- Walk often. Walking improves the blood flow to your feet. It is also good for your overall general health.
- Spell out the alphabet in the air with each foot once a day, as it can promote flexibility to your feet.
- If you smoke, STOP. Smoking decreases blood flow to the feet.
Wear Comfortable Shoes and Socks
Shoes and socks that fit correctly may help prevent foot problems. They can also help prevent foot problems from worsening.
- Wear shoes that cover your toes and heels.
- Wear soft, padded socks that are free of any seams.
- Examine your feet after wearing new shoes. Red spots, sore and blisters are signs that your shoes are rubbing or putting pressure on the feet.
- Wear shoes made out of canvas, leather, or suede and can be easily adjusted with laces, velcro or buckles.
- Do not wear shoes made of plastic or other material that does not breathe or shoes with pointed or open toes such as high heels, flip-flops or sandals.
- People with diabetes often suffer from peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) in the foot and are unable to feel skin irritation or punctures. If shoes are too tight, it may result in blisters or sores that can quickly progress into serious infections.