Diabetes and the Foot

People with diabetes risk serious and disabling foot complications, the risk of which is greatly reduced with good blood glucose control. Diabetes may affect the feet in two ways:   

  1. Firstly, the nerves which enable you to feel pain, temperature extremes and give early warning of possible trauma, are damaged.
  2. Secondly, the blood supply to the feet is diminished due to damage to the blood vessels.

Under these circumstances even a minor foot problem can be hazardous. The importance of proper foot care in diabetes is widely recognised. It is recommended that you have regular assessments by a Podiatrist who will advise a common sense, daily care routine to reduce the risk of injuries and complications. They can also assess if you have High or Low risk feet, so you are aware of your situation.

Here are some tips to help look after your diabetic feet:

  • Check your feet daily. Look for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters.  If you can’t see the bottom of your feet use a mirror or ask someone to help.
  • Wash your feet daily in warm (not hot) water and dry them carefully, be sure to clean and dry well between your toes.
  • Use a moisturiser daily to stop heels cracking and to help keep the skin supple.
  • If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Cut them straight across after bathing when they are soft and file the edges using an emery board. Avoid having nails done at nail salons, if you have trouble attending to your nails, see your Podiatrist.
  • Wear shoes and socks at all times. Avoid going barefoot, wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet.  Check inside your shoes before wearing them.  Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
  • Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Avoid hot water, radiators, heat packs, electric blankets or hot water bottles.  You can burn your feet easily without realising it.
  • Keep the blood flowing to your feet.  Put your feet up when sitting, wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes a couple of times per day.  Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time and walk regularly.
  • Maintain blood glucose levels within the range advised for you.
  • Have an annual diabetic foot health check with your Podiatrist as this can help identify problems early and they will communicate any issues to your health team.
  • Blisters, cuts and scratches should be cleansed at once with clean water or saline solution. Cover with a sterile dressing and seek advice from a podiatrist or your GP as soon as possible.
  • “Corn cures” and medicated pads are caustic-based and can cause. catastrophic foot problems. See your podiatrist for treatment of corns.
  • Keep your weight down as weight puts tremendous pressure on feet and their health, as it does to the rest of the body’s organs.

At Wanneroo Podiatry we provide positive support and education to patients with Diabetes and help them to treat their feet carefully to ensure long term benefits.

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