Diabetes and Foot Care
Maintaining foot health is a critical element of living with diabetes.
Many people living with diabetes experience nerve issues and reduced blood flow. Both conditions reduce sensation in the feet, which makes it hard to tell when a foot has an abrasion or injury, and can slow the time it takes to heal. This reduction in foot sensation and delayed healing time can lead to complications, which in severe cases, may lead to amputation.
Many diabetes-related amputations can be avoided with healthy lifestyle changes and diligent monitoring of foot health. Read on for tips to live a foot-healthy lifestyle with diabetes.
Lifestyle Tips: Caring for Your Feet
Visit a podiatrist: Add an annual visit to the podiatrist to your healthy living repertoire. A podiatrist can help you create a foot care plan and assess if your feet would benefit from specialty shoes.
Scan for abrasions: Minor issues like blisters, calluses, swelling and cuts need to be treated seriously when you have diabetes. Set a time every day to scan your feet for injuries. If you have a hard time seeing the bottoms of your feet or in between your toes, use a hand mirror to view hard-to-see areas, or ask for help from a friend or family member.
Pamper your feet: To protect your feet from foot injury, it’s smart to give your feet extra attention. Avoid walking barefoot, make sure to wear well-fitting shoes and socks, test water temperature before stepping into a hot bath to avoid burning your skin, and keep your feet well moisturized to avoid the cracking that can result from excessive dryness.
Simulate blood flow: To improve circulation in your feet, take easy walks if you’re able to. Aim to wiggle your toes and move your ankles a few times a day and when you rest, elevate your feet and avoid crossing your legs.
Don’t smoke: One of the biggest threats to foot health for someone with diabetes is smoking. Smoking affects small blood vessels which can lead to decreased blood flow, which is extremely dangerous for those living with diabetes.
By taking simple steps like monitoring feet daily, and adding foot-healthy practices throughout the day, people living with diabetes can give their feet the extra care they need to avoid complications.