Daily Care for Diabetic Feet
Established by the American Diabetes Association, we observe National Diabetes Month every November. If it seems odd to dedicate an entire month to a single disease, consider this – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports “one in 10 Americans have diabetes” and “another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Combined, over 114 million adults are diabetic or prediabetic! Given that the population of the U.S. was 323 million in 2016, we’re talking about a disease that affects or could affect one-third of the general population. That probably makes it easy to see why diabetes merits its own month!
Diabetes causes health problems throughout the body, including down in the feet. This can be attributed to the fact elevated sugar levels damage nerves and impair the body’s immune system.
If you don’t take proper care of your feet, you have an increased risk for a couple of very serious medical complications – Charcot foot and diabetic ulcers.
When we say, “proper care,” we don’t mean you occasionally take some effort or give your feet attention only every once in a while. You need to be vigilant with your foot care on a daily basis. The good news is this doesn’t have be extremely complicated or time-consuming.
From a general perspective, daily foot care for diabetic feet is centered on protecting your lower limbs and identifying problems at the earliest opportunity. More specifically this entails measures like:
- Eat a healthy diet. The starting point for diabetes management—including keeping your feet safe—is to monitor and regulate your blood sugar levels. This means adhering to a food plan created by a dietician who has experience and training in creating diabetic diets. Doing so can help keep your feet safe because excess sugar will continue to damage peripheral nerves, and you rely on physical sensation to know if problems develop.
- Always wear footwear. Even when walking around the house, you should protect your feet with a proper pair of diabetic shoes. This ties in with peripheral nerve damage common to diabetic individuals. Since you may not be able to feel when a wound is sustained, you need to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place by keeping your feet protected.
- Inspect your socks and shoes. It is important to always wear proper shoes, but before you put footwear (including socks) on your feet, take time to make sure there is nothing inside them first. Even a small pebble in your shoe could create a wound that breaks down in time and becomes a diabetic ulcer.
- Care for your skin. Both too wet and too dry are issues for skin when diabetes is in the picture. To make sure your feet aren’t too wet, dry them off completely after your bath or shower (before putting on socks). Also, wear socks and shoes that are breathable and moisture-wicking. To prevent excessive dryness, use moisturizer on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Avoid the areas between your toes, though, since this can increase infection risk.
- Inspect your feet. Every day take the time to thoroughly inspect your feet for any wounds, including (but not limited to) cuts, scrapes, ingrown toenails, warts, blisters, calluses, and essentially anything that would not be found on a normal, healthy foot. If you do find any issues, contact us as soon as possible for an appointment so we can resolve it for you and keep your feet safe.
These are all important measures you need to take, but even more so is to come see us here at our Bloomington, IN office at the earliest possible opportunity if you realize something is wrong.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us at (812) 333-4422.