If you are diabetic, you know you need to monitor your blood sugar, but did you know you should be monitoring your feet as well?
Diabetes can affect your feet negatively in two ways:
1) Persistently high blood sugar can damage the nerves in your feet. This can result in numbness, tingling and loss of feeling. If you lose feeling in your feet, you may not notice if you have a blister or a cut. Also, nerve damage can prevent the muscles in your foot from functioning properly leading to misalignment and pressure ulcers.
2) High blood sugar can also damage the blood vessels in your feet. Poor blood flow to the skin prevents infections from healing, and increases the risk of ulcers and gangrene (death of tissue due to lack of blood flow).
The combination of nerve and blood vessel damage means that even a small cut or blister that goes unnoticed can result in a serious infection. In fact, diabetes is the most common cause of lower limb amputations. Every hour, 3 people with diabetes must have a foot, ankle or leg amputated. Many, if not most, of these infections and amputations can be prevented with proper food care.
If you are diabetic, you need to take extra care of your feet to prevent injuries and resulting complications. The Center for Disease Control recommends the following foot care guidelines for those with diabetes:
- Have your health care provider check your feet at least 4 times a year. Take your shoes and socks off at the start of each visit and ask your doctor to look at your feet. They should be looking to see if your feet are deformed or mis-shaped. They should perform a test to check the feeling in your feet and test the strength of your pulse at least once per year.
- Check your feet thoroughly each day for any small cuts, cracks or blisters. Remember to check between your toes and the bottom of your feet.
- Wash your feet daily. Dry them well and rub a lotion or cream on the tops and bottoms. Do not put lotion between your toes as this can lead to infection.
- Trim your toenails carefully OR better yet, have someone do this for you. Cut them straight across following the natural curve of your toe. Do not cut into the corners.
- Have corns and calluses treated by a doctor or a foot care specialist. To learn how to care for these conditions speak with a member of our Home Healthcare team today.
- Wear shoes and socks at all times. Don’t walk barefoot. Be sure to wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Don’t wear sandals with thongs between the toes.
- Be physically active to increase the circulation in your feet.
If you are diabetic and develop any swelling, warmth, redness or pain in your feet see you doctor right away. Delaying treatment of any infection can result in serious complications such as amputation.
If you have questions about diabetic foot care, speak with a member of our pharmacy or home healthcare team today!