People with diabetes must take careful steps to keep their condition – and their health – under control. This doesn’t only include monitoring your blood sugar and watching what you eat – if you want to keep stepping with ease, you should also pay special attention to your feet.
Diabetes causes damage to the nerves and reduces blood circulation to the extremities. This makes it harder for your body to heal small cuts and sores and makes you prone to dangerous infections. Diabetic neuropathy – a lack of feeling in the hands and feet that affects 70 percent of patients – can make it hard to know when minor foot issues are turning into major problems.
AUGUST 17 IS NATIONAL “I LOVE MY FEET” DAY
This nationwide holiday encourages us to give our feet and toes some extra TLC. If you have diabetes, keeping your feet in good shape may take more than pampering and pedicures. Luckily, a few extra steps to your daily routine can keep you walking tall for years to come.
Check your feet every day. Even if you don’t feel pain, you should thoroughly check your feet for redness, swelling, cuts, blisters, abrasions, corns, or any other changes to the skin and nails. If you can’t see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask a friend for help.
Wear shoes that fit properly. Ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters, corns, and calluses. Be sure to wear shoes that fit properly and give your feet plenty of space to spread naturally as you walk. To find the best fit, try on shoes later in the day when your feet tend to swell.
Cut nails carefully. Trim your nails straight across the top and gently smooth the edges with a nail file. Avoid cutting your nails too short, as this can cause ingrown toenails.
Don’t walk barefoot. Wear shoes, socks, or slippers even when inside your home. This will reduce the risk of scratches or sores to your feet.
Check your shoes. Before lacing up, always check the insides of your shoes for pebbles, sticks, or other objects that could cause damage to your feet.
Don’t test water with your toes. When filling the tub, don’t use your feet to test the temperature. Nerve damage can make it difficult to tell if the water is too hot, and you may unintentionally cause burns or scalds to your feet. Use your hands or elbows instead.
Keep your feet dry. Water-logged feet are prone to skin infections, especially in the delicate space between your toes. Always change out of wet socks and shoes immediately and dry your feet thoroughly with a clean, soft towel after bathing. When moisturizing your feet, avoid applying creams between the toes.
See a podiatrist for foot problems. Don’t try to treat problems like corns, calluses, or bunions yourself. Over-the-counter products can irritate your skin and DIY surgeries are likely to cause bigger issues. Instead, add a podiatrist to your care team and check in regularly for foot care.
Engage in low-impact exercise. Exercise is a crucial step in controlling diabetes, but you should choose activities that are friendly to your feet. If you have diabetic neuropathy, consider low-impact exercises like walking or swimming over fitness classes that include jumping, leaping, or bouncing.
Control your condition. Test regularly to keep your blood sugar levels under control and promptly treat any underlying conditions to keep your feet in fantastic shape.