FOOT HEALTH FACTS FOR DIABETICS
Having diabetes can increase the risk of developing a
number of foot problems, often because of two
complications of the disease: nerve damage (neuropathy)
and poor circulation.
For diabetics, minor foot problems can turn into
serious complications, including:
- Ulcers (sores) that don't heal
- Cracked heels
- Ingrown toenails
Untreated diabetes can result in other conditions, such
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy - this condition
doesn't emerge overnight. Instead, it usually develops
slowly and worsens over time. Some patients have this
condition long before they are diagnosed with diabetes.
Having diabetes for several years may increase the
likelihood of having diabetic neuropathy.
Charcot foot - a condition in which the bones of
the foot are weakened enough to fracture. With continued
walking, the foot eventually changes shape. As the
disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot
takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker-bottom
To prevent complications of diabetes, patients are
advised to follow diabetic foot care guidelines. Sometimes
special diabetic shoes are prescribed to avoid pressure
and rubbing on the feet caused by regular footwear.
Diabetes can be dangerous to your feet - even a small
cut can produce serious consequences. Diabetes may reduce
blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal an injury
or resist infection. Diabetes may cause nerve damage that
takes away the feeling in your feet. Because of these
problems, you may not notice a foreign object in your
shoe. As a result you could develop a blister or a sore.
This could lead to an infection or a non-healing wound
that could put you at risk for an amputation.
To avoid serious foot problems that could result in
losing a toe, foot, or leg,
follow these guidelines:
Inspect your feet daily.
Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail
problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the
bottom of your feet. Call your doctor if you notice
Wash your feet in lukewarm (not hot!) water. Keep
your feet clean by washing them daily.
Be gentle when bathing your feet. Wash them using a
soft washcloth or sponge. Dry by blotting or patting and
carefully dry between the toes.
Moisturize your feet - but
not between your toes. Use a
moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or
cracking. But DON'T moisturize between the toes - that
could encourage a fungal infection.
Cut nails carefully.
Cut them straight across and file the edges. Don't cut
nails too short, as this could lead to ingrown toenails.
If you have concerns about your nails, consult your
Never treat corns or calluses yourself. No
"bathroom surgery" or medicated pads. Visit your doctor
for appropriate treatment.
Wear clean, dry socks.
Change them daily.
Avoid the wrong type of socks.
Avoid tight elastic bands that may reduce circulation.
Don't wear thick or bulky socks that could fit poorly and
irritate the skin.
Wear socks to bed. If your feet get cold at night,
wear socks. NEVER use a heating pad or hot water
bottle. NEVER place feet next to a heat source to warm.
Shake out your shoes and feel the inside before
wearing. Remember, your feet may not be able to feel a
pebble or other foreign object, so always inspect your
shoes before putting them on.
Keep your feet warm and dry. Don't let your feet
get wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in
Never walk barefoot Not even at home! Always wear
shoes or slippers. You could step on something and get a
scratch or cut.
Take care of your diabetes. Keep you blood sugar
levels under control.
Don't smoke. Smoking restricts blood flow to your
Get periodic foot exams. Seeing your foot and ankle
surgeon on a regular basis can help prevent the foot
complications of diabetes.