What are the most important steps to diabetic foot care? More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's over 11 percent of the U.S. population. If you're one of the millions of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, take a look at what you need to keep your feet healthy.
Inspect Your Feet Daily
Regularly examine your feet for any cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or other abnormalities. Since nerve damage can reduce sensation, it's essential to visually inspect your feet daily to catch any issues early.
Wash and Dry Your Feet Thoroughly
Clean your feet daily with lukewarm water and mild soap. Avoid hot water, as it can cause burns due to reduced sensation. After washing, thoroughly dry your feet, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal infections. You may also need to moisturize your feet regularly Apply a moisturizer to your feet to prevent dry skin and cracking. However, avoid applying moisturizer between the toes, as this can create a damp environment that promotes fungal growth.
Trim Your Toenails Carefully
A simple trim could leave you in need of foot wound care. Trim your toenails straight across and avoid cutting too close to the skin. This reduces the risk of ingrown toenails that can lead to infections.
Choose the Right Footwear
Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes that provide good support. Avoid tight shoes or shoes that cause friction. Diabetic shoes or shoes with orthotic inserts can help distribute pressure and reduce the risk of sores.
Protect Your Feet
Avoid walking barefoot, even at home, to prevent injuries. Use slippers or comfortable shoes that protect your feet. Never go outside without shoes. While flip flops may feel comfortable in the warmer months, this type of open shoe may not offer the protection that you need. Instead of sandals, thong slides, and other similar shoes, wear sneakers or boots while outdoors. Before putting on your shoes, shake them out and inspect them for any foreign objects that could cause injury.
Stay Healthy and Active
Keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. This is crucial for overall health, including foot health. High blood sugar levels can impair circulation and delay wound healing. Regular physical activity can improve circulation and help manage blood sugar levels. However, choose activities that are safe for your feet and wear proper footwear.
If you notice any issues like cuts, sores, infections, or changes in the color or temperature of your feet, seek medical attention promptly. Delaying treatment can lead to more serious complications.
Schedule Check-Ups Regularly
Make sure to have regular foot check-ups with a healthcare professional, ideally a podiatrist or a foot specialist. They can identify potential problems early and provide guidance on proper foot care.
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