Diabetes can lead to many complications that affect other parts of our body, like our eyes, teeth, and even feet. With feet, it is very important to check them daily. Why?
About half of all people with diabetes have some kind of nerve damage, or neuropathy. Nerves in the feet and legs are most often affected. This nerve damage can cause you to lose feeling in your feet and legs. If you can’t feel anything in your feet and you step on something sharp and penetrate skin, how would you know you’re injured? That’s why daily checks are so important for those with diabetes.
Symptoms include numbness, tingling, or pain, but also you may not be able to feel pain, hot or cold.
Other diabetes complications like slow healing can lead to cuts and wounds on your feet to become infected. If infections don’t get better with treatment, it can lead to amputation to keep the infection from spreading.
Factors that can increase your risk of neuropathy include, blood sugar levels that are hard to manage, being overweight, having high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, and being older than 40 years old.
Some ways you can keep on top of your foot health is:
1. Check your feet every day for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other changes.
2. Wash your feet every day in warm (not hot) water. Don’t soak your feet, it can dry your feet and cause your skin to crack. Dry your feet completely after you wash them and apply lotion. Don’t put lotion between your toes.
3. Never go barefoot. Always wear socks and shoes.
4. Make sure your shoes fit well and don’t rub your feet too much. Also before putting on your shoes, check them to make sure there’s nothing sharp hiding in them.
5. Trim toenails straight across and smooth any edges with a nail file. If you can’t do them yourselves, have your doctor or a trusted pedicurist help you.
6. Don’t remove corns and calluses yourself. See your doctor to have them removed.
7. Get your feet checked at every health care visit.
8. Keep the blood flowing. Put your feet up when you’re sitting and wiggle your toes for a few minutes several times per day.
9. Choose feet-friendly activities like walking, riding a bike, or swimming.
10. Protect your feet from hot and cold.
You should see your doctor if there are pains or cramps in your legs, thickened yellow toenails, dry or cracked skin of your feet, or if you have a callus with dried blood inside it. If you have a cut, blister, or bruise on your foot that doesn’t heal after a few days, you should seek medical help. If you have a foot infection that becomes black and smelly, you definitely need help.
If anything looks funky with your feet, give your podiatrist a call and get it checked out. Check your feet every day and make sure they’re okay. Also, remember to get your blood sugar under controlled levels to decrease your risk of neuropathy.