People with diabetes need to take special care with their feet. Infections of the feet can be hard to heal, and could ultimately lead to amputation. Why are you more susceptible to foot problems? High blood glucose provides bacteria the fuel to grow on. Feet are difficult to keep clean, and easy to injure. Bacteria can get into a sore from your shoe rubbing or a nick with the toe clipper or a cut on your sole and multiply fast. Your ability to fight infection is also decreased by high blood glucose, as well as reduced circulation. You may also have peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves of your feet with tingling or numbness, so that you may not be aware of a cut or blister on your foot. If a foot sore goes untreated, it can quickly become a problem. It is estimated that more than half of the amputations are caused by preventable infection complications.
Tips for Keeping Your Feet Healthy:
1. Check your feet every day. Use a mirror to see the bottom of your feet, and look between your toes. If this is difficult, ask a family member or friend to check for you.
2. Treat any skin break by washing with soap and water and an antibacterial cream and a small bandage.
3. Clean your feet daily with warm water and soap, not hot water. Do not soak your feet. Because of decreased sensations, you are susceptible to burning your skin.
4. Use a moisturizer to avoid dry skin and calluses, but don’t let it accumulate between your toes. Be sure to dry between your toes.
5. Be careful with the care of toenails and corns and calluses. You can irritate or break the skin easily, and risk infection. Use an emery file for toenails, not scissors. Never cut corns or calluses, see your foot doctor instead.
6. Avoid walking barefoot, even at home.
7. Buy cotton socks, and shoes that are comfortable and don’t rub the skin. Break new shoes in slowly.
8. Increase blood flow to your feet by walking more.
9. Take your shoes and socks off when you go to a doctor appointment and have the nurse or doctor check your feet.
Reviewed by Sharon Howard, R.D., M.S., C.D.E, F.A.D.A - 03/13