According to the American Diabetes Association, about 15.7 million people (5.9% of the United States population) suffer from diabetes. Nervous system damage affects about 60-70% of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause diabetics to lose feeling in their feet or hands.
Foot problems are a big risk in diabetics. Diabetics must constantly monitor their feet or face severe consequences, including amputation.
With a diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that’s too tight can cause a great deal of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal. When your wound is not healing, it’s at risk for infection. As a diabetic, your infections spread quickly. If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. General tips for diabetic foot care include:
- Buy shoes late in the day. Never buy shoes that need “breaking in.” They should be immediately comfortable. Request shoes with deep toe boxes and made of leather upper material. Do not wear new shoes more than two hours at a time. Rotate your shoes. Do not wear the same shoes every day.
- Contact our office immediately if you experience any injury to your foot. Even a minor injury is an emergency for a patient with diabetes.
- Do not file down, remove or shave calluses or corns yourself.
- Do not smoke. Smoking decreases the blood supply to your feet.
- Ask your doctor about soaking your feet.
- Do not trim your own toenails.
- Do not use any chemicals or strong antiseptic solutions on your feet. Iodine, salicylic acid and corn/callus removers can be dangerous.
- Do not wear stockings or socks with tight elastic backs, and do not use garters. Do not wear any socks with holes. Always wear shoes with socks.
- Don’t use any tape or sticky products such as corn plasters on your feet. They can rip your skin.
- Examine your feet daily for redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts and nail problems from shoes or other sources. Look at the bottoms and between toes. Use a mirror or have someone else look for you.
- Examine your shoes for foreign objects, protruding nails and rough spots inside before putting them on.
- If the circulation in your feet is impaired, contact our office.
- In the winter, wear warm socks and protective footwear. Avoid getting your feet wet in the snow and rain and avoid letting your toes get cold.
- Keep feet away from heat sources such as heating pads, hot water pads, electric blankets, radiators and fireplaces. You can burn your feet without knowing it. Water temperature should be less than 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Estimate with your elbow or a bath thermometer, which you can find at any store that sells infant products.
- Lubricate your entire foot if your skin is dry, but avoid putting cream between toes.
- Never walk barefoot, neither indoors nor out.
- Never wear sandals or thongs.