Having diabetes means you're more like to have problems with your feet. That's partly because diabetes can cause nerve damage, or peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage can cause a loss of feeling in your feet, so that you may not know whether you have sores or other injuries on your feet.
Foot injuries can easily get infected and go unnoticed, leading to more serious infections and skin ulcers. Because diabetes can make infections harder to treat, these ulcers can develop into deep tissue infections. Extreme cases can lead to amputation.
Fortunately, taking care of your feet is easy if you know what to do. It's important to check your feet every day for redness, blisters, swelling, pain, cuts, or sores. If you can't easily examine your feet, use a mirror, or ask a family member or loved one to check them for you.
One of the best things you can do for your feet is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Ask your doctor to do a full foot exam at least once a year. Here is a list of specific dos and don'ts for diabetes and foot problems that will help keep your feet as healthy as possible.
Diabetes Foot Care Tips: Dos and Don'ts
DO: Wash your feet every day with mild soap and lukewarm water. Test the water with your elbow or a thermometer (90 to 95 F) to make sure it’s not too hot. Carefully pat your feet dry after washing them, making sure to dry between your toes.
DON'T: Don't wash your feet in hot water. It could cause a burn.
DO: Use lotion or petroleum jelly on your feet to keep the skin smooth. Use a non-medicated powder on your feet before putting on your socks and shoes to help keep them dry.
DON'T: Don't use moisturizer between your toes.
DO: Ask your doctor if it’s safe to trim your own nails. Cut your toenails straight across to help prevent ingrown toenails. Then file your toenails so they are not sharp.
DON'T: Round off the corners of your toenails.
DO: Wear shoes whenever you’re on your feet.
DON'T: Don't walk around barefoot.
DO: Make sure your shoes fit well and have plenty of room. It’s best to shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are usually at their largest.
DON'T: Don't wear shoes that feel tight.
DO: Choose shoes that are made of material that breathes, such as leather, canvas, or suede. Choose a shoe with a cushioned sole for absorbing pressure. Select shoes with laces over loafers because they provide better support.
DON'T: Don't wear sandals, high heels, flip-flops, or shoes with open or pointed toes.
DO: Replace the shoe when signs of wear become apparent, such as heels starting to wear on one side or the inner lining of the shoe is torn. Check the inside of your shoes often for gravel, rough areas, or worn lining.
DON'T: Don't keep wearing shoes that have rough areas or torn pieces inside. Toss them and get a new pair.