One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy with diabetes is to take good care of your feet. This article covers who needs to be especially careful with their feet and what’s important to know about foot care and diabetes.
For some people with diabetes, paying attention to their feet is especially important. When diabetes has not been well controlled, or sometimes when it has been present for a very long time, damage to the nerves (which is called neuropathy) can occur. Neuropathy often first occurs in the feet, and frequently goes unnoticed, as the most common symptom is loss of sensation.
Your doctor should carefully check the sensation in your feet at least once a year. It’s important that you know if there is any decrease in sensation, as this can put you at greater risk of problems with your feet. This numbness in your feet means that you may not notice the kinds of foot problems which would usually cause you discomfort, and therefore come to your attention.
The Three Things You Need To Do
#1 Look at your feet. You need to examine your feet, especially the bottoms of your feet, every day. Pick a regular time, like after your shower or bath, before putting on your shoes, or before going to bed at night. Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Breaks in the skin
- Corns or calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Changes in the shape of your foot
Run your hands lightly across your feet. Is everything smooth the way it should be? Use a mirror to inspect them or ask your partner to check them for you if it’s difficult to see the bottoms of your feet. If you see a small change in your foot, such as a blister or red area, watch it closely; if it becomes worse, or if there is no improvement in the next day, let your doctor know. Left untreated, even a small problem in your feet can lead to a major problem, as people with neuropathy also are slower to heal from injuries to their feet.
#2 Avoid future problems. You need to be more thoughtful about exposing your feet to potential problems if you have neuropathy. This means being careful to choose comfortable shoes that don’t constrict or rub your feet. You should avoid being barefooted at any time. Even at home, wear slippers or protective sandals to protect your feet and toes from injury.
#3 Ask an Expert. Talk to your doctor about how to trim your toenails, what kind of lotions or creams are safe for you, and whether you should also be under the care of a podiatrist, a specialist in foot care.
Simple attention to these three points can prevent complications such as foot ulcers and amputations. As with so many aspects of diabetes, when it comes to your feet, the best medicine is an ounce of prevention.