Neglecting your feet can result in some serious complications, and may cost your life too.
There is a lot to manage if you have diabetes: checking your blood sugar, making healthy food, finding time to be active, taking medicines, going for doctor’s appointments. With all that, your feet might be the last thing on your mind. In diabetic patients, foot infections are very common, and hence foot care tips are important in diabetes management. Neglecting your feet can result in some serious complications, and may cost your life too. It’s important not to ignore foot pain. If your feet hurt, it’s time to see your doctor or schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. As a matter of fact, your feet should be checked regularly even before there is a problem.
The two main foot problems that occur in people with diabetes are:
* Diabetic neuropathy: Over time, diabetes can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness in the feet. This can make it hard for people with diabetes to feel sensation in their extremities.
* Peripheral vascular disease: Diabetes leads to changes in blood vessels, including the arteries. In peripheral vascular disease, fatty deposits block these vessels and reduce the blood circulation to and from hands and feet.
How to identify signs of diabetic foot problems
If you have diabetes, contact your doctor if you have any of these problems:
* Changes in skin color
* Changes in skin temperature
* Numbness or tingling sensation
* Swelling in the foot or ankle
* Pain in the legs
* Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal or are draining
* Ingrown toenails or toenails infected with fungus
* Corns or calluses
* Dry cracks on the skin, especially around the heel
* Foot odor that is unusual or won’t go away
Tips for Foot Care:
1. Keep your blood sugar levels within a good range.
2. Check your feet everyday with a mirror for cuts, blisters, red spots, swelling, colour changes, open sores, cuts, and ingrown toe nails.
3. Wash your feet everyday with lukewarm water and soap.
4. Dry your feet in between the toes. Use powder if needed
5. Keep the skin soft and smooth. Apply skin lotion over top and bottom of feet but not between your toes.
6. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with nail file.
7. Never walk barefoot
8. Wear shoes that are comfortable and protect your feet. Shoes should have enough air passage and soft lining inside. Always buy shoes in the evening .Wear new footwear only for around half an hour daily for 1 week to avoid bites.
9. Change your socks daily. Prefer cotton seamless socks with no holes.
10. Protect your feet from hot and cold. Don’t use hot water bottles or heating pads. Wear socks at night in winters if you feel cold.
11. Put your feet up when sitting. Move your ankles 2-3 times a day.
12. Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time.
13. Plan your physical activity with your doctor.
14. Get your feet checked by your doctor periodically.
15. Don’t use chemical agents or blades to remove corns and calluses, go and see a foot specialist.
16. Don’t wear tight socks or knee-highs.
(The writer is Nutritionist/CDE(Certified Diabetes Educator)/CPT (Certified Pump Trainer)