At-home preventive foot care for diabetics
Although everyone should take steps to care for their feet, proper foot care is especially important for those with diabetes. Diabetes dramatically increases a person’s risk of foot-related health complications. For those with diabetes, foot problems are often the first sign of additional health problems to come.
Inspecting your feet at home on a regular basis is a great first step towards caring for your feet, and it is especially important for those with diabetes to have an annual examination with a primary care doctor or podiatrist.
In addition to having a physician examine your feet annually, the American Diabetes Association suggests the following preventative care steps to maintain the health of your feet:
- Manage your diabetes. Keep your blood glucose within your target range, and monitor it carefully. Consult your doctor about the best diet and exercise regimen for you, and if you smoke, make a plan to quit.
- Check your feet everyday. Look for skin breakdown, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, swelling, blisters, or any other damage, and be sure to inform your doctor of any problems. Avoid walking barefoot, and make sure your shoes and socks fit properly. This will help to prevent common injuries to the skin of the feet.
- Wash and dry your feet daily. Plenty of people get their feet wet in the shower, but not nearly enough actively wash and dry their feet. In the shower or bath, wash not only the tops of the feet, but also the soles and in between the toes. When drying off, dry the tops of the feet, the soles, and between the toes as well, and use this time to inspect your feet for potential problems.
- Keep your toenails trimmed, but don’t cut them too short. Your podiatrist will show you how to properly care for your toenails, but if you aren’t able to safely or properly trim your toenails yourself, your podiatrist’s office may be able to provide these services for you. Keeping your toenails properly trimmed will allow for better fit of your shoes and socks, and it will help avoid common problems such as ingrown toenails.
- Move. Whether you are regularly active or have restricted mobility, move your feet and toes regularly throughout the day. Maintaining good blood flow to your extremities goes a long way towards health. In those with diabetes, the feet often show signs of problems before other parts of the body. While sitting, raise or lift your feet periodically, and rotate the ankles a few times and wiggle your toes. Also, avoiding sitting with your legs crossed for more than a minute or two at a time.
Although there are no guarantees in life, diabetic foot care and maintenance can go a long way towards improving your health. Follow the above tips to improve your foot and ankle health, but always consult your podiatrist or primary care physician if you note changes or have concerns.