Caring for Your Feet When You’re Diabetic
One of the most pressing issues that diabetics face is foot injuries. Diabetics find that foot injuries that start out small can turn into serious cuts, sores, fungal infections, and in extreme cases, infections that can cause foot amputation.
This might frighten you if you’re a diabetic patient, but here’s some good news: If you start prioritizing healthy foot care, especially diabetic-specific foot care and hygiene, then you reduce the chance of serious issues arising, such as non-healing sores or amputation.
In fact, the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care performed a study upon 352 test subjects, finding that diabetics who included healthy foot care strategies into their daily care were up to 59% less likely to suffer diabetic-associated wounds and sores on their feet.
What type of strategy should you use to implement healthy diabetic foot care? Take a look at this list, and start implementing these tips into your daily foot care regimen:
1. Keep An Eye Out for Abnormalities On Your Feet
Here’s the main issue that arises with your feet when you’re diabetic – due to nerve damage associated with the condition, diabetics are prone to losing feeling and sensitivity. For example, you might have a cut or a small sore on your feet, and you wouldn’t feel it. This could lead to you ignoring the issue, which in turn creates the opportunity for infection to set in.
Added to this is the fact that diabetic-related nerve damage prevents proper blood flow to the feet. You need healthy blood to flow through your foot in order to deliver healing antibodies that fight infection and allow it to heal, so the best thing you can do to head off infection is to inspect the tops of your feet, your soles, your toes, and the skin in between your toes.
2. Keeping Your Feet Dry and Clean is Key
Another side-effect of having diabetes is the prevalence of fungal infections. If you’re diabetic, then you’re probably aware of how often you seem to suffer with some sort of yeast or skin fungus. Your feet are prime for developing fungus in your toenail beds and between your toes.
While you’re inspecting your feet, be sure to look for signs of fungal infections. Signs include thick, dark, or yellow toenails that take on an unnatural, raised shape. You might notice red patches between your toes, especially if your feet are naturally moist or sweaty. You might also notice an increase in odor and an increase of white, flaky skin on your heels, although the bottoms of your feet are moist.
You can keep your feet healthy and dry by making sure that you change your socks at least once a day. Turn your socks inside out before you run them through the washer on the hot water cycle. This helps to kill off yeast and fungus spores. You can purchase foot powders that are specially formulated for fungal treatment, and there are also powders that are formulated for diabetic feet. Also, make sure that you’re gently washing your feet.
3. Wash, But Don’t Scrub, Your Feet
Be sure to use a soft washcloth when washing your feet, but also make sure you’re not scrubbing your feet. This means you shouldn’t use instruments such as a loofah sponge. Loofahs can cause tiny cuts in the skin, and they can also trap bacteria and fungal spores in their material, creating opportunities for cross-infection.
It’s also key that you’re using lukewarm water. Hot water can aggravate any sores or cuts you’re presently treating, and when you dry off your feet, be sure to use a fresh, soft towel. Blot your feet dry to avoid scrubbing and tearing the skin of your feet.
4. Everyday Protection Tips
In addition to visually inspecting your feet, washing them carefully and keeping them dry, be sure to keep your feet carefully groomed and protected. This includes caring for your toenails.
It’s crucial for you not to clip your nails too close to the toes, or else you could create a slow-healing cut. Wearing socks and shoes are a must — even if you’re indoors. In fact, it’s probably in your best interest to purchase socks that are designed for diabetic feet. They offer more cushioning and protection than regular socks.
Caring for diabetic feet can seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of products on the market to assist you with your journey toward maintaining healthy feet. These include specialty socks, skin/nail care and shoes for diabetics. Diabetic foot care strategies are the key to maintaining healthy foot function and your quality of life. Not only is healthy foot care crucial for diabetic patients, but it’s key for everyone else to practice healthy foot hygiene, too.