There are many foot complications related to diabetes such as calluses, athlete’s foot, bunions and ulcers. There are many reasons why diabetes can harm the foot and one of the main concerns is decreased blood flow to the foot. This occurs due to damage to the blood vessels in people who have persistently high blood sugar over long periods of time. Another major concern is the damage to the nerves of the foot which decreases the sensation, which results in foot injuries going unnoticed. So how should people with diabetes car for their feet?
The cornerstone in the prevention of foot problems in diabetes is having persistent control of blood sugar and insuring that the blood glucose levels are kept within a normal range over a long period of time. Many studies have shown that controlling one’s blood sugar levels can effectively prevent or delay foot problems in people who have diabetes. There are several other important ways to effectively decrease the problems of the feet with diabetes.
1. Foot examination: Diabetic patients should learn how to properly examine their feet on a daily basis by checking for any swelling, redness or hidden cuts. They should also look under the nails. A mirror can be used or a family member can be asked to assist if the diabetic person is visually impaired. Consult with a physician if anything suspicious is found. Diabetic patients should have their feet routinely examined by their doctors at least one time per year.
2. Toe care: Toe nails should be cut with extreme care. The edges should be filed and not cut too short to avoid ingrown toe nails.
3. Do not walk barefooted and avoid the use of heating pads.
4. Choose socks carefully. Socks should be changed daily and should always be clean. Tight socks should not be worn as they can decrease blood circulation. It is best to wear socks at night if the feet become cold.
5. Shoes: Diabetic patients should wear low heeled shoes to decrease pressure on the toes and they should also wear shoes with a broad front so as to provide the toes with adequate space. It is a good idea to shake the shoes before wearing just in case there is a small stone or other object which may not be felt when wearing the shoes.
6. Washing and moisturizing: Lukewarm water should be used for washing the feet and the feet should be carefully dried afterward. Apply a moisturizing cream on all areas of the feet except for in between the toes, as this can cause a fungal infection.
7. Smoking: If the diabetic person smokes, it is highly advisable to quit smoking as it causes a decreased blood flow to the feet.