Treat Your Feet Right With Diabetes
- Put Your Best Foot ForwardIf you have type 2 diabetes, there are many health questions to consider: What can I do to keep myself healthy? What diet do I need to follow? How do I check my blood sugar? But there is another question you should talk to your doctor about--how to protect your feet.
- An Unnerving ConditionIf you have diabetes, you have blood sugar levels that are too high. Over time, this can damage your nerves and the blood vessels in your body. Damaged blood vessels mean your feet (including delicate nerve fibers) aren't getting enough oxygen or blood. With nerve damage, you may experience burning pain or a loss of feeling in your feet. It's why a small blister can turn into a major problem in the form of an ulcer.
- Take Steps to Healthy FeetInfected ulcers mean a trip to the hospital, and in severe cases, they can even lead to amputation. It's easy to see why taking care of your feet when you have diabetes is an important component of your overall health plan. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to ensure that your tootsies stay in tip-top shape.
- Listen to Your DoctorFollow your doctor's advice. Make sure you keep your blood sugar levels in check and follow his/her advice on diet, exercise, and medication.
- A Daily CheckupGive your feet a thorough once over. It's vital you check them every day, as you could have a serious foot problem but not be able to feel it. Look for any sores, red spots, or infected toenails. Call your doctor right away if you see a cut, bruise, or sore that doesn't start to heal after one day. Another tip: If you have a difficult time bending to examine the bottom of your feet, grab a mirror or enlist the help of family or friends.
- If the Shoe Fits...Get the right footwear. Find shoes and socks that fit well and comfortably--and wear them all the time. Walking barefoot—even indoors—makes it all too easy to step on something and injure your foot. It's also a good idea to check the insides of your shoes before putting them on to make sure they are smooth and there isn't anything in them that shouldn't be there.
- Keep 'em CleanWash your feet in lukewarm water. The water should never be hot, and you should avoid soaking your feet, as it can dry your skin out. A temperature of 90 to 95 degrees is safe.
- Pat Your PawsYour washed feet also need a proper drying routine. Make sure you pat—not rub—your freshly bathed feet with a soft towel, paying attention that you dry them well between the toes. One helpful hint: Sprinkle cornstarch on your toes to keep the skin between them dry. You may also want to dust some on your feet before putting on your shoes and socks.
- Trim Your ToenailsAfter you've washed your feet, it's a good time to trim your toenails, since nails will be softer after a soak. Nails should be trimmed about once a week and always clipped straight across—never cut into the corners of the toenail, as this can lead to ingrown nails.
- Keep Skin SmoothKeep your feet smooth by applying lanolin lotion or petroleum jelly to the tops and bottoms of your feet, paying special attention to your heels. If you notice the skin is cracked, ask your doctor for the best way to treat it.
- Avoid Extreme TemperaturesPractice temperature control. Gearing up for a day at the beach? Make sure you wear shoes to avoid walking on hot pavement. Also slather sunscreen on top of your feet to prevent sunburn. If it's a frosty day, wear lined boots to protect your feet from the outside chill or socks at night if your feet tend to get cold while you sleep. When the temperature drops, it's also a good idea to check your feet regularly for frostbite if you've been out in the elements.
- Wiggle Your Piggies!Move your feet. Finally, do some toe wiggling for five minutes, two or three times a day. You can also move your ankles up and down. These exercises will help keep the blood flowing to your feet and legs. It's also smart to avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time and to refrain from wearing socks that are too tight. And when vegging out on the couch at night, go ahead and prop your feet up—it'll help you relax and keep the blood flowing to your feet!
- Step Out in StyleFollowing your doctor's advice and these simple self-care steps can make sure your feet are ready to step out for years to come!
Treat Your Feet Right With Diabetes