Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 6 May 2021
Table of Contents
- Diabetes Foot Care
- Daily Foot Inspection Checklist
- Foot Care Tips
- Toenails and Pedicures
- Help Prevent Infections
- When to Call Your Doctor
Diabetes Foot Care
You probably monitor your blood sugar many times a day to ensure it stays within a safe range if you have diabetes. In addition to your normal monitoring, you should check your feet once a day too.
Diabetes may result in decreased blood supply to the feet, causing minor cuts and sores to heal more slowly and take longer to recover.
If your blood sugar is not well balanced, you may even experience numbness or loss of sensation in your feet. You might be unaware that you have sustained a minor injury. Diabetes may even cause your feet's skin to dry out and your heels to crack.
The primary risk involved is infections. Pathogens like bacteria and fungi may enter minor cuts and cracks through the skin, causing infections in your skin and eventually your bones.
Inform your doctor immediately if you believe you have contracted an infection. Early detection and care may help deter the disease from spreading. And this increases the chances of avoiding more serious issues. Certain diabetics who develop serious infections may need surgery to amputate a portion or all of an infected leg.
Therefore, inspect the feet daily. Maintain clean and moisturised skin, avoid injuries, and protect the feet from minor bruises, corns, calluses, blisters, and other injuries.
Daily Foot Inspection Checklist
Listed below is a simple checklist to follow for your daily foot care:
- Every day, schedule a particular period to conduct this check.
- Use sufficient lighting to allow you to detect any issues.
- If it's difficult for you to bend forward or see your foot, use a mirror or call for assistance.
- Examine your feet, toes, between your toes and heels for cuts, sores, bruising, calluses, blisters, scrapes, and scratches, as well as any skin colour changes.
- Always check between your toes, looking for fungi that might cause athlete’s foot.
- Examine the toenails for any changes.
- Keep an eye out for cracked, dried skin on your feet, toes, and heels.
Foot Care Tips
- Cover your feet when walking by wearing heavy, soft socks. Avoid socks with exposed seams that can irritate the skin and trigger blisters.
- Wear shoes that are both convenient and well-fitting. Blisters may occur when shoes are too tight or too loose.
- Avoid going barefoot. You want to avoid stepping on bricks, tacks, or little bits of glass that might cut your foot. At home, wear slippers.
- Clean the insides of your socks and shoes to remove any little pebbles or debris that might cut your foot.
- Maintain clean feet. Avoid soaking them for an extended period of time. This will cause the skin to become dry.
- Following a shower or bath, thoroughly dry your feet. Ensure that the area between your toes is completely dry.
- Moisturize your skin by bathing and towelling your feet. Lubricate the skin and heels with lotion or petroleum jelly to prevent them from drying out and cracking. However, avoid putting lotion or jelly between the toes; this will result in an infection.
- In the winter, the combination of cold weather and central heating will cause the skin to dry out. Take special care to moisturise and warm your feet. When you get chilly at night, wear socks to bed.
Toenails and Pedicures
Do not allow your toenails' corners to expand into the skin. This will result in an ingrown toenail. Use an emery board to file the toenails. You should often have them regularly trimmed and filed by a nail technician or podiatrist. Bring your own nail tools if you have pedicures at a nail salon.
Avoid sharp objects while cleaning under the toenails or removing calluses. You may not want to accidentally sustain a wound that may result in infection. After showering or bathing, you should use a pumice stone to softly smooth your heels. Avoid excessive rubbing.
Help Prevent Infections
- Exercise daily to encourage healthy blood circulation.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels and adhere to your doctor's nutritional recommendations. If you maintain a healthy blood sugar and weight, you will have less foot issues.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking will constrict blood vessels and increase the risk of developing foot problems.
Additionally, take care of any bruises, bumps, scrapes, blisters, corns, or calluses, regardless of their size. Notify the doctor or podiatrist if you need medical attention.
When to Call Your Doctor
Examine the area for any redness, swelling, or discharge that may indicate an infection. If you believe an infection is about to begin, seek medical treatment immediately.
Look out for foot ulcers. They are sometimes found on the balls of the feet or the bottoms of the toes. Inform your doctor if you believe you have one.
Nails that seem to be thicker, yellower, altered in form, striped, or not developing normally can indicate an injury or infection.
If your foot, ankle, or toe is swelling, red, hot to the touch, has changed shape or size, or hurts as you walk normally, you might have a sprain or fracture. Contact your doctor or seek medical attention immediately. Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, increases the risk of developing a debilitating disease called Charcot foot, which results in a difference in the form of the foot.
If you have mild foot issues such as bunions, hammertoe, plantar warts, or athlete's foot, a fungal infection, contact your doctor. Address these concerns immediately before they become more severe.
If you discover a wart, corn, or callus on your foot, avoid self-treatment with over-the-counter pads or liquids. Avoid attempting to scrape it from the skin. Get the assistance of a podiatrist or doctor to properly extract it.
Referenced on 20/4/2021
- Fred Williams, MD, Endocrine and Diabetes Associates, Louisville, KY.
- American Diabetes Association: “Foot Complications.”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your feet healthy.”
- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons: “Diabetic Complications and Amputation Prevention.”
- American Podiatric Medical Association: “Diabetes.”
- American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: “Charcot Arthropathy.”