Diabetic Foot Care
As a podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist), Dr. Silvers sees a large amount of diabetic patients at their McKinney, Texas and Prosper, Texas Office Locations. These patients are usually referred from primary care physicians or endocrinologists, or patients themselves concerned about their foot health come to our clinic. Diabetic patients have to take extra special care of their to prevent ulcerations, infections, and even amputations. Listed below are a few helpful tips for diabetics concerned with how to take proper precautions and protect their feet. Take these steps to help prevent diabetic foot complications:
1. Check your feet everyday!
This is an absolute necessity. If you can’t reach your feet, have a friend or family member check your feet. If needed, put a mirror on the floor and put your foot over it to look for cuts, scraps, bruises, openings or areas of irritation. Make sure you check between your toes. Very moist areas, white areas or red areas are bad. Check for foot fungus, patchy, scaly white areas between your toes or on the bottom of the feet. Check for irritated areas with redness or swelling. Check for infection. Redness, pus and drainage are signs of infection. Look for ingrown nails.
2. Check your shoes before you put your feet in them.
Small pebbles or rocks can hide in the shoe. Put your hand in first and check it before you place your foot into the shoe. Items that I have found in patient’s shoes include socks, stockings, staples, rocks, legos and even a pencil. The most common response when I pull these items out of their shoe is “How did that get in there?”
3. Don’t walk around barefoot or in sandals.
Splinters and needles can be hidden in the carpet and can puncture a foot without sensation. Punctures can go unnoticed. Unprotected feet can be more damaged when bumped or hit against furniture.
4. Watch out for folds in your socks.
Believe it or not, small folds in the socks can lead to ulcers and infections. Rough seams in the socks can also cause areas of irritation that may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. Avoid cotton socks and choose synthetic blends, polypropylene, acrylic, diabetic socks or small fiber wool blends.
5. Dry off your feet after showers and dry between your toes.
Increased moisture between your toes can lead to the skin breaking down. This will eventually lead to an ulcer between the toes. Ulcers between the toes are very difficult to cure.
6. Don’t be a victim of fashion.
High fashion shoes usually lead to a high number of problems in the feet. Make sure the shoes are wide enough. Don’t buy shoes that are too wide or too long which can cause a lot of slipping. Pick shoes that are soft and flexible and allow for cushioning on the top and sides, but are rigid on the sole. Make sure they don’t fold in half. You may be eligible for your insurance to pay for diabetic extra-depth shoes with custom insoles. These shoes will take the pressure off your feet. Ask your doctor.
7. Check your bath water with your hand before you put your foot in it.
The temperature your foot feels is much different from the temperature your hand feels when you have neuropathy. Make sure to check the temperature with your hand. This will be much more accurate than testing the water with your foot.
8. Don’t use a heating pad on your feet.
This may cause burns without you realizing it. This has specifically happened to my diabetic grandfather who in result had to receive repeated wound care and eventually a skin graft to bottom of his foot.
9. Do not use medicated corn pads or any medicated pads from the local drug store.
These medicated pads are usually not effective and may cause a chemical burn on the surrounding skin. Don’t use any medication on the skin unless you are instructed to do so by your podiatrist.
10. Do not cut your own toenails.
If you have loss of sensation or poor blood supply, make sure you have a podiatrist trim your toenails.
11. Do not trim your own calluses or corns.
As mentioned above, if you have a loss of sensation or blood supply then have your podiatrist trim your corns or calluses.
12. Lose Weight.
Easier said than done, but this is one of the most important steps you can take for your overall diabetes health and foot health. Your feet are not designed to carry that extra 100 pounds, that extra 50 pounds or even that extra 20 pounds. The more pressure on your feet, the more problems you will develop.
Not only will exercise help you lose weight, contribute to your health, it will also help increase the circulation in your legs and feet.
14. STOP SMOKING!
This applies to everyone, but especially to diabetics. Smoking causes the blood vessels to shrink. Smoking contributes to clogging of the arteries. Smoking also makes it more difficult for the nutrients in the blood to get to the areas they are needed. Diabetes + Smoking = Disaster.
15. Visit a podiatrist regularly.