Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes
Diabetes and Foot Health
Take steps to protect your feet
If you have diabetes, keeping your feet healthy is a top priority. Diabetes is often accompanied by poor circulation and loss of feeling in the limbs. It can be easy to injure your foot without realizing it.
Foot ulcers are a major health problem, affecting up to a quarter of people with diabetes at some point. About 80 per cent of foot ulcers are caused by external trauma to the foot. For instance, injury can come from wearing ill-fitting footwear, or having a small stone find its way into a shoe. In the worst-case scenario, a wound on the foot can lead to amputation. Most lower leg amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer.
Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid both injury and complications. You are less likely to develop a foot ulcer if you:
- access foot care education
- have your doctor do regular foot exams (at least once a year)
- and check your feet every day at home.
Guidelines for foot care
By establishing a few simple habits, you help keep your feet healthy and prevent injury.
- Get into the habit of checking your feet every day.
Keep your skin warm and dry. Moisturize every day, but not between your toes.
Wear shoes that fit well and do not place any pressure on your foot or toes.
Always wear shoes. They protect your feet from injury.
Wear socks. Most pharmacies carry special socks for people who have diabetes. They are designed without seams to reduce the chance of blistering. Some have cushioning for comfort, while others control moisture to reduce the risk of a fungal infection.
Ask your doctor to screen (examine) your feet at least once a year.
- Use a bright light to check the bottoms of your feet and between your toes.
- Look for cuts, sores, blisters, redness and swelling in your lower legs and feet.
- If you have trouble bending to see your feet, use a mirror on a long swivel handle. You can find these in medical equipment stores as well as online
If you have concerns about your feet, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Waiting is not in your best interest.
- If you have not had a foot assessment in the past year, have one done at your next doctor’s visit.
- If your doctor has said that you have a foot that is at high risk of developing an ulcer, get screened more often than once a year.
Neglecting your feet can lead to serious problems down the road. Even minor problems like a scratch can result in an infection or foot ulcer. Left untreated, this could increase the risk of amputation – not a cheery thought.
By paying attention to your feet every day and taking care of your diabetes at the same time, you greatly lower your risk of problems. It is extremely important to have regular foot examinations done at least once a year, and even more frequently if you cannot feel your feet. Remind your doctor to examine your feet if it has been over a year since they have been checked.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2019, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [DI_MDab18]