Foot care is important for diabetics. Without proper care, diabetes can cause two problems that affect the feet: peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy.
Peripheral vascular disease occurs when there’s poor blood flow to the arms and legs, which makes it difficult for infections to heal and increases the risk of gangrene and ulcers.
Diabetic neuropathy occurs when uncontrolled diabetes damages the nerves. When nerves are damaged in the feet, it can cause your feet to feel hot, cold or pain.
Diabetes can cause a number of other foot issues, including corns, calluses, bunions, ulcers, hammertoes and ingrown toenails. Taking good care of your feet can help prevent these foot issues.
Here are 10 simple tips for diabetic foot care.
1. Inspect Your Feet Daily
It’s hard to prevent or treat a foot issue if you never actually look at your feet. If you have diabetes, you should check your feet every single day and look for the following:
- Dry skin
- Cracked skin
- Signs of corns, calluses or bunions
It’s not always easy to see the bottoms of our feet. A mirror can help you see and look for issues in this area of the foot.
2. Wear Loose-Fitting Shoes
I always recommend wearing properly-fitting shoes, but if you’re a diabetic, you may want to buy shoes that are more loose-fitting.
It’s very common for diabetics (and just about everyone else) to have issues with their feet swelling. Loose-fitting shoes give you a little wiggle room so that your feet can swell without putting extra pressure on your feet.
When you go to buy a new pair of shoes, I highly recommend that you wait until later in the day. Your feet swell as you go through your day. If you wait until later, the swelling will be at its highest level, and you’ll be able to see how your feet really fit in your shoes.
3. Wear Insoles
I highly recommend wearing insoles if you have diabetes or just suffer from foot pain in general. Thin insoles tend to work best because they provide cushioning and support without taking up too much room in your shoes.
I like MindInSole because it gives your foot a little massage with every step you take. It’s also on the thin side, so you don’t have to worry about buying a bigger shoe just to accommodate your insole.
4. Listen to Your Doctor
Diabetes can affect people in different ways. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your doctor’s recommendations when taking care of your feet.
If you’re experiencing foot pain, your doctor will recommend medication or another treatment to help ease your symptoms. But if you ignore or don’t follow your doctor’s recommendations, you may wind up making the problem worse or experiencing burning pain in your feet.
Always follow your doctor’s advice when caring for your feet.
5. Keep Your Feet Clean
It may seem like an obvious tip, but many people forget to do it: wash your feet. It’s important to give your feet a little extra love and care when you have diabetes, so don’t ignore them when you’re showering or bathing.
When you’re done cleaning your feet, make sure that you dry them well, especially the toenails and the areas between the toes.
After you’re done cleaning your feet, apply a thin layer of moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and soft. Dry skin is more prone to cracking and friction injuries.
When applying moisturizer, make sure that you avoid the areas between the toes. Just focus on the tops of and bottoms of your feet.
6. Wear the Right Socks
Many doctors recommend wearing socks all of the time – even when you sleep. Moisture-wicking socks will help keep your feet dry, which will prevent athlete’s foot and other issues. Socks also offer a little extra protection from calluses and corns because they prevent friction.
If you want a little extra help in the blood circulation department, you may want to consider compression socks.
7. Always Wear Shoes
It may sound like an inconvenience, but wearing shoes at all times will help prevent pain and other foot issues.
Diabetics should never walk barefoot, even when they’re indoors. Something as small as a stub on a coffee table can cause a very serious foot ulcer.
If you’re walking barefoot on the pavement, grass or sand, glass, seashells and sharp stones can break the skin and possibly lead to an infection.
If you have neuropathy or circulation issues that dull the sensation in your feet, it can be really dangerous to walk on hot pavement. You may not be able to tell that the ground is too hot, so you can easily burn the bottoms of your feet.
8. Visit Your Podiatrist Regularly
One of the biggest mistakes that diabetics make is not seeing their podiatrist. It’s important to see your general physician, but a podiatrist specializes in foot health and can offer specialized care for your feet.
They understand how diabetes affects the feet, and it’s their job to help you prevent some of the most common foot issues diabetics face, including corns, calluses and bunions.
If you’re having issues with your feet, a podiatrist should be one of the first people you visit.
9. Keep Your Feet Elevated When Sitting
Poor blood flow is a big problem for people with diabetes. You can help combat this problem by keeping your feet elevated when you sit. Don’t forget to wiggle your toes and move your ankles around.
Try elevating your feet a few times a day for at least five minutes. Try to avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time, as this will disrupt the blood flow to your legs and feet.
10. Exercise Smartly
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help keep your diabetes under control. Some people find that lifestyle changes, medication and losing weight eliminates virtually all of their symptoms. In rare cases, people have reversed their diabetes.
But when you’re creating your workout routine, it’s important to be smart about the exercises you choose.
Hard impact exercises, like jumping, can be really hard on the feet and joints. You don’t want to put extra stress on the feet or cause even more swelling. Plus, you’ll also increase the risk of developing ulcers.
Try taking a different approach to exercise. Swim, or use the elliptical instead of a treadmill. These exercises will still allow you to burn serious calories without jeopardizing your foot health.