If you have diabetes, you need to take special care of your feet. People with diabetes often develop foot problems because of nerve damage or neuropathy, which is one of the complications of diabetes. Symptoms of neuropathy include tingling, burning or stinging pain, weakness in the foot, and loss of feeling in the foot.
Diabetes also causes poor blood flow to your feet, which diminishes their ability to fight infection and to heal. Foot problems can quickly worsen and lead to serious complications such as non-healing foot ulcers and amputation.
You can prevent foot problems by working with your doctor in managing your blood sugar levels, adopting a healthy lifestyle, taking your prescribed maintenance medications, and following these simple foot care tips:
Inspect your feet daily.
- Look for any redness, swelling, cuts, blisters, ulcers and nail problems.
Wash your feet daily.
- Wash your feet with lukewarm water and dry them gently, especially between your toes.
- Apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly or unscented moisturizing cream on your feet (not in between the toes) to seal in the remaining moisture.
Protect your feet.
- Always wear clean, dry socks and properly fitting shoes. If you have neuropathy, ask your doctor about special therapeutic shoes that enhance comfort and provide protection for persons with neuropathy.
- Never walk barefoot. This rule applies even if you are indoors. Neuropathy can cause loss of feeling in your feet – you may suffer a foot injury and not know it.
- Trim your toenails carefully. Make sure to cut your nails straight across. If you have thick nails, vision impairment or numbness in your feet, have your toenails trimmed by a salon professional.
- Keep calluses under control. Use a pumice stone every day on your wet feet.
Live a healthy lifestyle.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking aggravates poor blood flow, which puts you at risk for infection and amputation.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet – on top of its positive effect on your overall health.
Talk to your doctor to find out more about how to care for your feet and manage your diabetes.
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