If you’re one of the 37 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the complications associated with the disease. For many men and women, those complications include foot ulcers, deep wounds that are hard to treat, and infections that are slow to heal and prone to developing.
Diabetes-related foot ulcers are a leading cause of lower limb amputations in the United States. Regular visits with a podiatrist are essential if you have diabetes, but you can take steps on your own to protect your feet from ulcers and other diabetes-related complications.
As a trusted podiatry practice in Waterbury and Newtown, Connecticut, Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC, offers comprehensive care for patients with diabetes, including state-of-the-art wound care. In honor of American Diabetes Month®, Stephen Lazaroff, DPM, FACFAS, and Joel S Segalman, FACFAS, FACFAO, offer these ten tips to help you keep your feet healthy.
Nerve damage (neuropathy) is one of the complications of diabetes, making it difficult to feel when you have a cut or other foot injury. Inspecting your feet daily for skin damage is critical to avoid ulcers. Also, look for other skin changes, including cracked skin, dry skin, and skin discoloration.
Many of us select our shoes based on how they look; it’s much more important to pay attention to how they fit and feel. If you have diabetes, look for shoes with ample room in the toe area and plenty of coverage and support for your foot. Avoid shoes with seams inside, as these can cause friction and blisters.
If your feet are damp, you’re more likely to experience friction between your toes or your foot and shoes. Carry extra socks with you when you go out, especially if you plan on hiking or going to the gym. Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing — and don’t forget to dry between your toes.
Most of us trim our fingernails in a rounded shape, but it’s better to cut toenails straight across. A straight edge helps prevent ingrown toenails and related infections. Gently buff sharp edges with a nail file being careful not to irritate the surrounding skin.
If you develop any injury — even a tiny cut or blister — keep a close eye on it for signs of infection or problems with healing. If you notice anything unusual, call our office right away so we can evaluate and treat it to prevent a serious infection.
Going shoeless might seem like a comfy way to give your feet some breathing room, but going without shoes — even at home — increases your risk of cuts, blisters, and splinters. Slide-in slippers and flip-flops are also no-nos since these can make falls more likely, especially if you have nerve damage in your feet.
Orthotics are special shoe inserts designed to suit the contours of your feet. Unlike over-the-counter inserts, prescription inserts use state-of-the-art technology to customize your inserts to suit your specific foot problems, including problems that can cause or contribute to diabetic foot ulcers. Plus, most insurance plans cover the cost of inserts, making them a budget-friendly option.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs — it’s bad for your circulation. Smoking causes widespread inflammation and damages the inside of your blood vessels, interfering with blood flow to your feet. If you develop a foot sore, healing is delayed, which can lead to infections and other complications.
Your skin is the first line of defense against tiny injuries that can lead to major ulcers. Keeping it moisturized helps prevent injuries — and it’s also a great time to do a daily foot inspection. Apply a light coat over your feet, but avoid applying it between your toes.
Compression socks can be a great way to keep the blood flowing in your feet — be sure to ask about prescription socks and avoid over-the-counter versions that could worsen your circulation. Elevating your feet and doing simple foot exercises help relieve strain on your veins and optimize blood flow when sitting still for a long time. (Ask the doctor before starting any exercise program — even one for your feet.)
If you have diabetes, making foot care a part of your routine is the best way to avoid foot ulcers and other serious complications. To learn how we can help, book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists today.