Diabetes can often lead to numbness and loss of sensation in the extremities (diabetic peripheral neuropathy), which can cause injuries and other health complications that affect the feet to go unnoticed. When an unnoticed affliction is combined with poor blood circulation and possible infection, it can lead to diabetic foot ulcers and other wounds that cannot heal on their own.
This is why careful, attentive foot maintenance is particularly important to people dealing with diabetes. Tiny injuries and complications can evolve into unhealing wounds that require surgery or even amputation of the limb. Fortunately, such dire situations can typically be avoided with regular care. Here are some tips for maintaining the health of your feet while living with diabetes.
Check your feet every day
The loss of feeling in your feet means that the only effective way to ensure your feet are healthy is to check on them regularly. Examine your feet in the morning, before bed, and after any athletic or strenuous activities. Look for cuts, bruises, abrasions, lumps, swelling, rough patches, discoloration, and any other indicator of damage. Check your socks and shoes for any sign of blood or other seepage. If you see something that might be cause for concern, give us a call here at Bay Area Foot Care right away. Don’t wait to see if the problem goes away on its own—a little alarmism is better than allowing a problem to have time to grow worse.
Clean your feet regularly
When they’re standing in the shower, many people don’t feel like bending all the way down to scrub their feet. But clean feet are less likely to develop problems than dirty ones.
Keep your feet dry
After washing, be sure to dry your feet thoroughly. Damp, warm feet are just the sort of place where fungus can grow. Choose footwear that will allow your feet to breathe. Remember that socks made of synthetic fibers tend to eliminate moisture better than cotton or wool.
Care for your toenails properly
Trim your toenails straight across with a pair of toenail clippers. Avoid trimming too close to the skin or rounding the corners of the nails, which can cause ingrown toenails. Don’t try to cover up toenail discoloration, cracks, or crumbling with nail polish; those could be signs of a fungal infection or other conditions, and applying nail polish could aggravate the problem.
Use caution in public areas
Gyms, locker rooms, public pools, and the showers associated with them—and any other damp, warm place where people often go barefoot—are common breeding grounds for fungal infections. Be sure to wear shower shoes or flip-flops in such areas. Avoid sharing shoes or socks with other people.
Choose proper footwear
Always be sure that your footwear fits your foot properly, with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, solid heel. Shop for shoes at the end of the day, to ensure that your shoes can accommodate the slight swelling that your feet will experience by evening. Make sure that the socks or hosiery you wear when you try on shoes in the store are the same sorts you’ll be wearing with the shoes normally.
Getting your shoes fitted properly by a professional is particularly important if you are dealing with diabetes, as you might not be able to rely on discomfort to inform you that an improperly-fitted shoe is causing stress to your feet.