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How to Prevent Foot Problems If You Have Diabetes

People with diabetes can face a wide range of foot conditions and problems, often because of two complications of the diabetes: nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation.

(picture by shoecapital.com)

For those with diabetes, small foot problems can turn into serious complications: ulcers (sores) that don’t heal, corns, calluses, cracked heels, hammertoes, bunions, ingrown toenails and more.

Diabetes can be dangerous to your feet, even a small cut can produce serious consequences. Diabetes may cause nerve damage that takes away the feeling in your feet. Diabetes can also reduce blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal an injury or resist infection.

Because of these problems, you may not notice a foreign object in your shoe. As a result you could develop a blister or a sore. This could lead to an infection or a non-healing wound that could put you at risk for an amputation.

To prevent complications of diabetes, patients are advised to follow diabetic foot care guidelines (listed below) and see a foot and ankle doctor who can help them prevent foot problems or fix problems that exist.

  • Inspect your feet daily for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet. Call your foot and ankle doctor if you notice anything suspicious.
  • Wash your feet in lukewarm water. Keep your feet clean by washing them daily.
  • Wash your feet gently using a soft washcloth or sponge. Dry by blotting or patting, and carefully dry between the toes.
  • Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. But DON’T moisturize between the toes, which could encourage a fungal infection.
  • Cut your toe nails carefully straight across and file the edges. Don’t cut nails too short, as this could lead to ingrown toe nails.
  • Never treat corns or calluses yourself. No “bathroom surgery” or medicated pads. Visit your foot and ankle specialist for appropriate treatment.
  • Wear clean, dry socks. Change them daily.
  • Avoid socks with tight elastic bands (they reduce circulation). Don’t wear thick or bulky socks (they can fit poorly and irritate the skin).
  • Wear socks to bed if your feet get cold at night, but never use a heating pad or hot water bottle.
  • Shake out your shoes and feel the inside before wearing. Remember, your feet may not be able to feel a pebble or other foreign object.
  • Keep your feet warm and dry. Don’t let your feet get wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.
  • Never walk barefoot. Always wear shoes or slippers. You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.
  • Take care of your diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can restrict blood flow in your feet.
  • Get periodic foot exams. Seeing your foot and ankle doctor on a regular basis can help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.

Remember, any type of foot pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call 626-447-2184 (Arcadia) or 310-551-1711 (Century City) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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