Diabetes affects your life in a multitude of ways, but not everyone considers the intertwining relationship of diabetes and your feet. Foot health can be an indication of overall health, but issues that develop in your feet play a role in your overall health, too. Whereas a diabetic ulcer that becomes gangrenous can necessitate an amputation, it can also become a life-threatening situation.
As we look at diabetic foot care, there are four overall areas to note: inspection, protection, lifestyle choices, and professional help.
Daily Foot Inspection
Due to the fact that your feet spend so much time covered—coupled with the neuropathy (nerve damage) that often accompanies diabetes—it is entirely possible for you to be unaware of a developing condition. In time, minor conditions become major complications. We would rather see you avoid the potential for danger, so carefully inspect your feet daily for:
- Cuts, scratches, and scrapes. When you discover these, wash the affected area carefully and apply an antibiotic cream recommended by our office. If there is redness, oozing, or foul-smelling discharge, call us as soon as possible.
- Skin issues. Keep your feet from becoming too dry, which can ultimately lead to fissures and cracking. Itching and redness are possible signs of infection and need to be treated right away. Blue or black coloration are indications of circulation issues and you must seek emergency care immediately.
- Blisters, corns, calluses, warts, and other growths. Any abnormality that you note on your feet has the potential for leading to a dangerous infection. A blister that bursts or callus that cracks can open the door for a microorganism to enter your body.
- Ingrown or discolored toenails. Ingrown toenails dig into the soft skin flanking them and increase the risk of infection, but our foot specialists can help. Discolored nails are a sign of fungal infection and need professional treatment.
Protecting Your Feet
Some areas of protecting your feet may seem more obvious than others, but they are all essential components for keeping you safe and healthy.
- Diabetic shoe choices. Make sure that your shoes fit comfortably, but are not so loose that your feet slide around inside and pose the risk of blisters. You should be able to wiggle your toes, yet still have your heel supported and cradled. Our office can assist you in finding the right pair of diabetic shoes for your feet.
- Nail care. Keep your toenails short and straight. Instead of doing this yourself, schedule an appointment and have it done at our office for optimal safety.
- Cleanliness. Protect yourself from the threat of infection by washing your feet daily. Use a mild soap and warm water. Avoid hot water, since neuropathy may prevent you from realizing when you are burning your skin. Afterwards, be sure to dry your feet thoroughly.
- Skin care. Excessive dryness can lead to cracks and fissures that enable microorganisms to enter your body. After cleaning your feet, apply lotion to the heels, tops, and bottoms of your feet. Avoid the areas between your toes as this can create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
Whether you have diabetes or not, smoking is simply a poor choice for your physical health. When you do live with this disease, though, it becomes an even bigger detriment to your body. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, which is less than ideal for someone who already has circulation issues due to diabetes.
Not all lifestyle choices entail “do not,” and a prime example is exercise. You can actually help fight some of the problems that accompany diabetes with physical activity. Low-impact exercises, like walking and swimming, are great ways to promote better circulation and lose weight, but without putting excessive pressure on your feet. Let us help you create an exercise plan!
Professional Diabetic Foot Care
In addition to the steps you take yourself, an important component of diabetic foot care is setting up regular appointments with our office. By coming in every 2 or 3 months, we can catch issues before they become serious. Also, this enables you to ask questions and see if there is anything else you should be doing to manage your condition.
Contact Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias today to set up a diabetic foot care plan. Call us toll free at (800) 456-8637 or use our online form to request an appointment at any of our many offices.