Diabetics are often warned to keep their feet in top shape and away from injuries or infections. If you are diabetic, any injury can be dangerous, even fatal. Considering feet are the most vulnerable body part for injuries, you will not regret taking extra care to keep that part of your anatomy safe.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), foot problems are a major cause of morbidity, mortality, and disability in people with diabetes. One of the factors that can lead to foot ulceration or other foot problems is peripheral neuropathy or damage to the nerves which can lead to impaired sensation, faulty organ function, etc. Another factor is excessive pressure on the foot (plantar pressure), while a third factor is a trauma, especially of a repetitive nature.1 It is estimated that 15 percent of diabetics will be affected by foot ulcers in their lifetime. About 14–24 percent of these diabetics will require amputation of the lower extremities. However,
How To Prevent Foot Injuries And Complications
Preventing foot complications starts with identifying the risk. The patient should screen his feet for loss of sensation and do a thorough assessment of plantar pressure and plantar load distribution. He should also screen for any kind of vascular disease and always maintain adequate sugar levels.3
Patients with diabetes must also be taught to understand proper foot care. Low-risk patients should be instructed about foot hygiene, proper footwear, avoidance of foot trauma, the need to stop smoking, and actions to take if problems develop.4 High-risk patients should additionally be taught to perform daily foot inspections.
Tips On How To Care For Your Feet If You Have
American Diabetes Association lists various foot care rituals diabetics must follow:5
1. Check Your Feet Every Day
Check for cuts, sores, swelling, red spots, or infected toenails. Sometimes diabetics may not feel pain in their feet. So, feet need to be checked thoroughly on a daily basis. People who cannot bend down to see below their feet can use a mirror or ask someone else to check it for you.
2. Wash Your Feet Thoroughly
Diabetics should wash their feet every day in warm water. After washing, wipe your feet dry and apply cornstarch or talcum powder between the toes to ensure that the skin is dry. Remember that it is not advisable to soak your feet as it tends to dry out the skin.
3. Moisturize After Cleaning
Make sure you apply lotion or cream or even petroleum jelly on your feet to keep it moisturized, soft, and smooth.
Aloe vera gel is often recommended as an effective moisturizer. However, make sure you moisturize only the top and bottom of your feet and not between the
4. Trim The Nails
The best time to trim your toenails is right after a bath when the nails are soaked and soft. And the best way to trim your nails is to cut them straight across. Avoid cutting into the corners of your toenails. You can smooth the corners afterward with a nail file or an emery board.
5. Use The Right Footwear Always
At all times, wear footwear to protect your feet—indoors or outdoors. Wear socks, or nylons or stockings with your footwear in order to avoid getting sores or blisters. Use shoes that fit well and protect your feet properly. Choosing the right type of footwear is also important. Your shoes should support your feet and allow them to breathe. Athletic shoes or walking shoes are ideal for this. Do not wear shoes with pointed toes or high heels too often as they put pressure on your toes. Ensure that your shoes give your toes enough space. Avoid
6. Keep The Blood Flowing
Diabetics must ensure that the blood flow to the feet is not hindered in any manner. Do not wear tight socks, rubber bands or elastic around your legs. Put your feet up when sitting. Another way to ensure blood flow is to move your ankle up and down and in and out. You can also wriggle your toes for about five minutes twice or thrice a day. But the main thing here is to quit smoking, as smoking can lead to reduced blood flow to your feet.8
7. Be Active
There can be no better way to improve blood flow and overall well-being of the feet than to be active. Walking, swimming,
How Do I Take Care Of Corns And Calluses?
Do not cut corns and calluses. Razor blades, corn plasters, corn, and callus removers are all out of bounds for diabetics as these can harm the skin and lead to an infection. Instead, speak to your doctor about the ways to remove calluses and corns. If the doctor recommends pumice stone to smooth the corns and calluses, do so after a bath when the area is soft. Rub gently, in one direction, to avoid tearing the skin.9
Adequate care for the feet goes a long way in preventing diabetes-related complications. Stay active, stay alert. And always wear the right footwear.
|↑1, ↑3, ↑8||Singh, Nalini, David G. Armstrong, and Benjamin A. Lipsky. “Preventing foot ulcers in patients with diabetes.” Jama 293, no. 2 (2005): 217-228.|
|↑2, ↑4||American Diabetes Association. “Foot care in patients with diabetes mellitus.” Diabetes Care 18, no. Supplement 1 (1995): 26-27.|
|↑5||Foor Care. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑6, ↑9||Meza, Mara. “Foot Care.” In Encyclopedia of Women’s Health, pp. 505-507. Springer US, 2004.|
|↑7||Boulton, Andrew JM, David G. Armstrong, Stephen F. Albert, Robert G. Frykberg, Richard Hellman, M. Sue Kirkman, Lawrence A. Lavery et al. “Comprehensive foot examination and risk assessment.” Diabetes care 31, no. 8 (2008): 1679-1685.|