Diabetes can increase the risk of foot infections as well as impair healing of these infections. Because many people with diabetes have reduced feeling in their feet, injuries and infections may go unnoticed, which can lead to serious foot infections. It’s very important for those living with diabetes to take steps to care for their feet and recognize problems. Here are some tips for doing so:
Tip 1: Care for your feet regularly
- Check your feet daily. Look for cuts, bruises, sores, redness, or any unusual markings. Don’t forget to check between your toes. If you can’t see all parts of your feet, use a mirror or have someone else check your feet for you.
- Wash and dry your feet daily. Use warm (not hot) water to wash your feet; use your elbow to check the water temperature. Do not soak your feet or take hot baths and make sure to wash and dry between your toes.
- Use a moisturizer on your heels and soles every day to help avoid dryness and cracking. Do not apply the lotion between your toes and make sure to wipe off any excess. Your pharmacist can help you choose an appropriate product.
- Cut your toenails straight across and not too short. Trimming nails may be easier after bathing or washing the feet because the nails will be softer. If you have trouble trimming your toenails or have loss of feeling in your feet, have a professional cut your nails for you. Do not treat in-grown toenails on your own; see your doctor for this.
- Ask your doctor or foot care specialist for advice on how to care for corns or calluses. Don’t cut corns or calluses or use over-the-counter treatments.
Tip 2: Choose proper footwear
- Wear supportive shoes and have them professionally fitted (professionally-fitted orthotics may also be helpful). Wearing shoes that fit properly will help prevent blisters and sores.
- Wear clean socks every day and avoid socks that are tight. Always wear socks when wearing shoes because socks will protect the feet and keep them dry.
- Always wear slippers or shoes. Do not walk around barefoot inside or outside.
- Avoid high heels. Keep the heel height under five centimetres.
Tip 3: Stay healthy
- Maintain control of your blood sugar. This can help reduce the nerve and blood vessel damage that can contribute to foot problems in people with diabetes.
- Get regular exercise and avoid prolonged sitting. Ask your doctor about exercises that may be best for you.
- Stop smoking. Your pharmacist can help you with this.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations for achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight.
Tip 4: Seek medical care
- See your doctor right away if you see any swelling or redness, or feel any warmth, tenderness, or pain in your legs or feet. If you injure your legs or feet, or notice any change in them, see your doctor or foot care specialist as soon as possible. When it’s needed, treatment should be started as soon as possible.
- A check of your feet should be done at each doctor’s appointment. Your doctor may need to check your feet frequently if there have been changes to your feet or if you have a loss of feeling in them.