Take Care of your Feet
Reprinted from US National Institute of Health
Foot care is very important for every person with diabetes,
Nerve damage can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You may not feel a pebble inside your sock that is causing a sore. You may not feel a blister caused by poorly fitting shoes. Foot injuries such as these can cause ulcers, which may lead to amputation.
A. Check your feet every day.
You may have serious foot problems but feel no pain. Check your feet for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, and infected toenails.
B. Wash your feet every day.
Wash your feet in warm, not hot, water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get dry afterwards. Dry your feet well. Be sure to dry between your toes.
C. Keep the skin soft and smooth.
Rub a thin coat of skin lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not put lotion or cream between your toes because this might cause an infection.
D. Trim your toenails each week or when needed.
Have a foot care doctor trim your toenails if your nails are difficult to reach or discolored, thick, or curved. Trim toenails straight across. Don't cut corners of the nail.
E. Wear shoes and socks at all times.
Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Always wear socks to help avoid blisters and sores. Choose clean, lightly padded socks that fit will. Do not wear tight socks, elastic or rubber bands around your legs. Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear socks at night if your feet get cold. Keep your feet warm in the Winter.
People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Even ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications.
Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage, also called neuropathy, which results in loss of feeling in your feet. Poor blood flow or changes in the shape of your feet or toes may also cause problems.
Although it can hurt, diabetic nerve damage can also lessen your ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Loss of feeling often means you may not feel a foot injury. You could have a tack or stone in your shoe and walk on it all day without knowing. You could get a blister and not feel it. You might not notice a foot injury until the skin breaks down and becomes infected.
Nerve damage can also lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes. Ask your health care provider about special therapeutic shoes, rather than forcing deformed feet and toes into regular shoes.
Poor circulation (blood flow) can make your foot less able to fight infection and to heal. Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden. You can control some of the things that cause poor blood flow. Don't smoke - smoking makes arteries harden faster. Also, follow your health care provider's advice for keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
If your feet are cold, you may be tempted to warm them. Unfortunately, if your feet cannot feel heat, it is easy for you to burn them with hot water, hot water bottles, or heating pads. The best way to help cold feet is to wear warm socks.
Some people feel pain in their calves when walking fast, up a hill, or on a hard surface. This condition is called intermittent claudication. Stopping to rest for a few moments should end the pain. If you have these symptoms, you must stop smoking. Work with your health care provider to get started on a walking program. Some people can be helped with medication to improve circulation.
Exercise is good for poor circulation. It stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet. Walk in sturdy, good-fitting, comfortable shoes. Don't walk when you have open sores.
People with diabetes are far more likely to have a foot or leg amputated than other people. The problem? Many people with diabetes have artery disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet. Also, many people with diabetes have nerve disease, which reduces sensation. Together, these problems make it easy to get ulcers and infections that may lead to amputation. Most amputations are preventable with regular care and proper footwear.
For these reasons, take good care of your feet and see your health care provider right away about foot problems. Ask about prescription shoes that are covered by Medicare and other insurance. Always follow your health care provider's advice when caring for ulcers or other foot problems.
One of the biggest threats to your feet is smoking. Smoking affects small blood vessels. It can cause decreased blood flow to the feet and make wounds heal slowly. A lot of people with diabetes who need amputations are smokers.
Peripheral arterial disease, also called PAD, occurs when blood vessels in the legs are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits. Blood flow to your feet and legs decreases. If you have PAD, you have an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. An estimated one out of every three people with diabetes over the age of 50 have this condition. However, many of those with warning signs don't realize that they have PAD and therefore don't get treatment.
What does Diabetes have to do with PAD?
If you have diabetes, you're much more likely to have PAD, a heart attack, or a stroke. But you can cut your chances of having those problems by taking special care of your blood vessels.
Diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)