When you have diabetes, taking good care of your feet is very important. Poor foot care can lead to serious problems, including possibly having to remove -- or amputate -- the foot or leg.
As a person with diabetes, you are more vulnerable to foot problems because the disease can damage your nerves and reduce blood flow to your feet. The American Diabetes Association has estimated that one in five people with diabetes who seek hospital care do so for foot problems. By taking proper care of your feet, most serious problems can be prevented.
Here are some diabetes foot care tips to follow.
Wash and Dry Your Feet Daily
- Use mild soaps.
- Use warm water.
- Pat your skin dry; do not rub. Thoroughly dry your feet, especially between the toes.
- After washing, use lotion on your feet to prevent cracking. Do not put lotion between your toes.
Examine Your Feet Each Day
- Check the tops and bottoms of your feet. Have someone else look at your feet if you cannot see them.
- Check for dry, cracked skin.
- Look for blisters, cuts, scratches, or other sores.
- Check for redness, increased warmth, or tenderness when touching any area of your feet.
- Check for ingrown toenails, corns, and calluses.
- If you get a blister or sore from your shoes, do not "pop" it. Apply a bandage and wear a different pair of shoes.
Take Care of Your Toenails
- Cut toenails after bathing, when they are soft.
- Cut toenails straight across and smooth with an emery board.
- Avoid cutting into the corners of toes.
- You may want a podiatrist (foot doctor) to cut your toenails.
Be Careful When Exercising
- Walk and exercise in comfortable shoes.
- Do not exercise when you have open sores on your feet.
Protect Your Feet With Shoes and Socks
- Never go barefoot. Always protect your feet by wearing shoes or hard-soled slippers or footwear.
- Avoid shoes with high heels and pointed toes.
- Avoid shoes that expose your toes or heels (such as open-toed shoes or sandals). These types of shoes increase your risk for injury and potential infections.
- Try on new footwear with the type of socks you usually wear.
- Do not wear new shoes for more than an hour at a time.
- Look and feel inside your shoes before putting them on to make sure there are no foreign objects or rough areas.
- Avoid tight socks.
- Wear natural-fiber socks (cotton, wool, or a cotton-wool blend).
- Wear special shoes if your health care provider recommends them.
- Wear shoes/boots that will protect your feet from various weather conditions (cold, moisture, etc.).
- Make sure your shoes fit properly. If you have neuropathy (nerve damage), you may not notice that your shoes are too tight. Perform the "footwear test" described below.