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If you have diabetes, nerve damage, circulation problems, and infections can lead to serious foot problems. However, you can take precautions to maintain healthy feet.
Managing your diabetes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps keep your feet healthy. This should include:
You can help prevent serious foot problems by following a good foot care regimen.
Here are a few foot care habits you can adopt and try to do every day.
Check your feet and toes, inspecting the tops, sides, soles, heels, and the area in between the toes. If you’re physically unable to inspect your own feet, use a mirror or ask someone to help. Contact your doctor immediately if you discover any sores, redness, cuts, blisters, or bruises.
Wash your feet every day in warm water with mild soap. Hot water and harsh soaps can damage your skin. Check the water temperature with your fingers or elbow before putting your feet in. Your diabetes may make it difficult to sense water temperature with your feet.
Pat your feet to dry them and make sure to dry well. Infections tend to develop in moist areas, so make sure you dry the area between your toes well.
If the skin on your feet feels rough or dry, use lotion or oil. Do not use lotion between your toes.
Following good foot care habits will go a long way toward keeping your feet healthy. Here are a few helpful tips.
It’s possible for people with diabetes to perform routine toenail care. But visual difficulty, nerve problems, or circulatory changes in the legs or feet can make this unsafe.
If you’re able to safely trim your toenails yourself, doing so properly will help you avoid getting an ulcer or foot sore. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider to see if it’s safe for you to perform routine toenail care. Ask them to show you the correct way.
Here are a few tips for proper toenail care:
If you have neuropathy, or nerve damage that has affected foot sensitivity, you may overlook cuts or bumps. You can help protect your feet by wearing shoes at all times.
It’s important to recognize early warning signs of foot problems, such as:
If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Delay may result in serious health complications.
Following the tips above can help you to avoid foot problems. As stated above, high blood sugar levels over time can cause nerve damage and circulation problems. These problems can cause or contribute to foot problems. Left unnoticed or untreated, sores, ingrown toenails, and other problems can lead to infection. Poor circulation makes healing an infection difficult. So it’s best to avoid them if possible.
Infections that do not heal can cause skin and tissue to die and turn black. This is called gangrene. Treatment can involve surgery to amputate a toe, foot, or part of a leg.
A doctor should examine your feet at every visit and do a thorough foot exam once a year. If you have a history of foot problems, you should be checked more often. Your health care provider should also give you information on foot care and answer all your questions. Report any corns, calluses, sores, cuts, bruises, infections, or foot pain.
If necessary, your doctor can recommend a podiatrist who specializes in diabetic foot care or give you information about special shoes that may help.
Remember: Diabetes-related foot problems can worsen very quickly and are difficult to treat, so it’s important to seek prompt medical attention.
Written by: Ann Pietrangelo
Medically reviewed on: Apr 04, 2016: Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE
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