Patients with diabetes can develop complications such as poor circulation, low blood flow and nerve damage in the lower legs and feet, making it very important to spend a little extra time taking care of their feet. Nerve damage makes it unlikely you will feel a cut or blister, and poor blood flow can cause infections and wounds that can be difficult or impossible to heal, and the results can lead to amputation.
Here are some important things to do every day to keep your feet healthy:
Check your feet daily for sores, calluses, infection and changes in color. A mirror can be helpful to check the bottoms.
Wash your feet in warm water, not hot, and dry well, especially between toes.
Apply good, unscented lotion to heals and soles, but not between your toes.
Wear clean socks, preferably diabetic socks (available at your local pharmacy).
Wear well-fitting shoes at all times to protect your feet.
Exercise to improve circulation, even wiggling your toes and moving your ankles around will help improve blood flow.
Put your feet up when sitting.
Here are some important things to avoid:
Going barefoot inside or outside.
Treating corns or warts yourself.
Wearing socks that are tight around the top.
Using hot water bottles or heating pads.
Sitting cross legged for long period of times.
Smoking (this decreases circulation).
Wearing high heels, sandals, flip flops or pointed toe shoes.
It is also important to see your healthcare providers regularly. Your PCN Nurse will be checking your feet at least once per year. This check involves looking at your feet to check for calluses, sores and testing the sensation in your feet. If you discover sores, calluses, infection or changes in color, have them treated by your physician or foot care specialist. If you have any swelling, warmth, redness or pain in your feet or lower legs, see your physician right away.
Your feet are a very important part of your body. Practicing self-care between doctor's appointments will increase your chance of avoiding foot complications.
Submitted by Andrea Baker, Registered Nurse with Dr. Saujani
References and Resources 1. Diabetes Canada – Foot care: A step towards good health