Diabetes: Take Steps to Protect Your Feet
Diabetes is a disease caused by the body’s inability to create enough insulin, prompting high blood sugar. A subsequent result of high blood sugar, neuropathy, can lead to dangerous foot problems. If you’re diabetic, take these steps to protect your feet.
Diabetic neuropathy involves changes in nerves caused by high blood sugar, your genes, or a combination of the two. High blood sugar can impair nerve communication and harm your blood vessels, which bring oxygen and nutrients to your nerves. Neuropathy can cause a host of problems, including numbness or pain in your hands, legs, and feet. Since your feet have the longest nerves, they are at an increased risk of being impacted by neuropathy.
Taking Care of Your Feet
While diabetic nerve pain in the feet can be irritating, numbness can be very dangerous. When you’ve lost sensation in your feet, you may injure your feet without realizing it. And if sores or other injuries aren’t noticed, they could develop into harmful ulcers. Create a daily foot care routine to keep your feet healthy.
1. Examine both feet everyday.
- Check for scrapes, bruises, cuts, sores, or other wounds. To be sure you see every part of each foot, use a mirror or ask a family member to help you inspect your feet.
- If you notice an injury that isn’t healing, tell your doctor.
2. Clean your feet.
- Use mild soap and warm water. Before you place your feet in water, test it with your wrist to be sure it’s not too hot. Don’t soak your feet.
- Be gentle when drying them, especially between your toes.
- Before putting your feet into socks and shoes, rub petroleum jelly all over them, except for between your toes. Since feet impacted by diabetic neuropathy don’t sweat as much as healthy feet, they need extra moisturizer to not dry out or crack.
4. Trim your toenails.
- Although you should always cut your nails straight across, use an emery board to remove sharp edges. Sharp nails can cut your other toes.
5. Remove dead skin.
- Use a pumice stone or an emery board to rid your feet of dead skin. Keep sharp instruments and harsh chemicals away from your feet.
- Don’t remove calluses.
Apart from your daily routine, keep in mind these general tips for taking care of your feet.
1. Don’t sit cross-legged.
- Crossing your legs restricts blood flow to your feet.
2. Wear the right shoes and socks.
- Be sure your shoes fit well and give your toes plenty of room to move.
- Often, people who have had neuropathy for years experience feet flattening and widening. This can make shoe shopping a struggle. Ask your doctor for a referral to a podiatrist, a foot doctor who can help you find proper footwear.
- Always check your shoes for tears or sharp edges that could hurt your feet.
- Your socks should be thick and soft. Try to not wear stockings, especially ones that are slippery or have seams.
- If your feet are cold, wear socks. Don’t put heating pads or hot water bottles on your feet.
3. Never go barefoot.
- It’s especially important to wear shoes on beaches, rocks, and hot surfaces.
4. Talk to your doctor.
- Every time you visit, ask him or her to examine your feet.
When a Diabetic Foot Issue is an Emergency
A foot ulcer is a serious medical condition that may start as a sore you don’t feel due to diabetic neuropathy. If you experience these symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Red, swollen feet
- Intense pain
- A break in the skin oozing pus
- Bleeding from the foot
Diabetic neuropathy can cause dangerous foot problems, which can go unnoticed when your feet have lost feeling. When minutes matter, visit a CHI St. Luke’s Health Emergency Department for expert care right away.