Diabetes complications like potential nerve damage and poor blood circulation make your feet vulnerable to ulcers and slower healing times.
Managing your diabetes well includes the all-important regular foot care routine and annual diabetic foot check. In some cases, a diabetic foot check more frequently may be recommended by your podiatrist. This prevents severe foot sores or ulcers that do not respond well to treatment. More than 80 per cent of amputations have started from foot ulcers, which left untreated, lead to severe damage to tissue and eventually to bone.
However, better diabetic care is believed to be the main reason why lower limb amputations have decreased by over 50 per cent in the past 20 years. Included in that, is home care involving regular foot checks.
Keep your precious feet healthy with these helpful guidelines:
Preventative Care: Care always starts with a healthy diet, regular exercise, blood sugar monitoring and sticking to your medication regimen. Additionally and specific to your feet:
- Daily Inspections – Check your feet daily for sores, cuts and redness as well as swelling. You can use a mirror to make it easier to see the bottoms of your feet.
- Daily hygiene – Wash your feet in lukewarm water daily (if not showering or bathing as usual). Dry them gently and pay attention to moisture between the toes. Gently rub any new skin calluses with a pumice stone, to prevent these thickening. Sprinkle unperfumed talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes to keep the skin dry. Next, moisturise your feet with a suitable cream, top and bottom. These steps will prevent cracks and thus prevent bacterial infections.
- Calluses and other conditions – Rubbing a callus gently with a pumice stone is fine, but never attempt to ‘cut’ an old callus off. Try to avoid using nail clippers, scissors or chemical removers on calluses or warts as they cause injury to your skin. Your podiatrist should do this level of treatment.
- Toenail trimming – Trim your nails straight across, then gently file away sharp ends. Again, your podiatrist may be better suited to do this, particularly if you have mobility challenges.
- Clean, dry socks – Correct fibres can help pull moisture away from your skin. Cotton and special acrylic fibres do this but nylon does not. Special acrylic socks are a better choice as they maintain their padding factor, whereas cotton is flattened quickly. Avoid tight elastic strips in the socks as this a big challenge to your circulation. Additionally, seams may irritate your skin.
- Well-fitting shoes – Clearly comfortable, supporting, cushioning shoes are important. They must help the heel, arch and ball of the foot. Tight fits, high heels and narrow toe space should all be avoided. At Free Your Feet Podiatry, we stock Dr. Comfort which are diabetic and orthotic friendly shoes!
- Smoking – Smoking reduces your circulation, so oxygen supply is reduced in your blood. For diabetics, this is a significant risk. This results in more severe wounds and poor healing. If you are struggling to quit smoking, consult your doctor for advice and support.
- Checkups – Nothing beats the experienced eye of your podiatrist when inspecting your feet. Picking up nerve damage, poor circulation or other problems earlier is a big benefit. Book appointments at least once a year. Free Your Feet Podiatry offers a full diabetic annual foot check and for those patients utilising a Care Plan from your GP, we are happy to bulk bill this as part of your Care Plan.
Please contact us at Free Your Feet on (02) 9680 3646 with any enquiries about the advice in this article, or to book an appointment with one of our podiatrists!