Foot Care for Diabetics: A Comprehensive Guide to Prevention and Maintenance
People living with diabetes often grapple with challenges that aren’t immediately obvious. Among these, foot complications stand out due to the high risk they pose. Neglecting foot care can lead to severe consequences, from infections to ulcers and, in extreme cases, amputations. This guide endeavours to arm you and your loved ones with essential knowledge and tools, aiming for optimal foot health.
People living with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing foot complications, ranging from sensation loss to skin problems. Being proactive, informed, and deliberate about foot care can prevent complications and promote overall wellness. This guide equips you and your loved ones with knowledge and tools for optimal foot health.
Why Diabetics Need Special Foot Care
Having diabetes is synonymous with an elevated risk of foot problems. The perpetual high blood sugar levels, inherent to diabetes, can wreak havoc on various systems of the body. Notably, the feet become vulnerable hotspots due to the profound effects on the nerves and blood vessels.
Blood Sugar Management
Elevated levels of blood sugar can lead to a range of foot problems. It is therefore essential to:
Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels to avoid complications.
Maintain a balanced diet, rich in nutrients to support overall health.
Neuropathy, commonly referred to as nerve damage, is a condition that affects the normal activity of the nerves that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body. One of the most concerning consequences of neuropathy is the loss of sensation, particularly in the extremities like the feet and hands. This sensory loss means that an individual might not feel pain, heat, cold, or even pressure as they normally would.
Because of this diminished sensitivity, minor injuries such as cuts, blisters, or burns might not be immediately detected. For instance, a person with neuropathy might step on a sharp object or develop a blister from tight shoes and not even realize it. Over time, these unnoticed injuries can become infected or lead to more severe complications, especially if left untreated.
Therefore, it becomes crucial for individuals with neuropathy to adopt a proactive approach to their health. Regularly inspecting areas prone to injury, especially the feet, is essential. This can involve visually checking for any abnormalities, using hands to feel for changes in temperature or texture, and being vigilant about any changes, no matter how minor they might seem. Additionally, seeking regular medical check-ups and consulting with healthcare professionals can further ensure that potential issues are addressed promptly.
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Control
Regulating blood pressure and cholesterol is crucial. Make sure to:
Engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy circulatory system.
Regular healthcare check-ups for timely interventions.
Smoking can lead to poor circulation, amplifying the risk of foot issues. Consider:
Using helplines and support groups for assistance and encouragement.
Steps for Daily DIABETIC Foot Care
Maintaining proper foot hygiene is paramount for those with diabetes, as infections can lead to serious complications. Here’s how to keep your feet clean and healthy:
1. Daily Washing
Use lukewarm water: Ensure the water is not too hot, as heightened sensitivity issues may prevent you from gauging the temperature accurately. Use a thermometer if necessary.
Choose a mild soap: Soaps with harsh chemicals can strip away natural oils, leading to dryness.
Consider a gentle foot soak: If your feet are particularly sore, consider soaking them for 5-10 minutes in a foot bath with Epsom salts or essential oils.
2. Drying Techniques
Gentle Patting: Instead of vigorously rubbing your feet, gently pat them to minimise friction and avoid potential skin abrasion.
Focus on Interdigital Areas: The spaces between your toes are susceptible to moisture build-up, which can be a breeding ground for fungi. Ensure these areas are thoroughly dried.
Use Absorbent Towels: A soft, absorbent towel will help remove moisture more effectively.
Opt for foot-specific creams: These are formulated to penetrate thicker foot skin effectively.
Do it right after washing: Applying moisturiser when your feet are slightly damp helps lock in moisture.
4. Nail Care
Nail care is a crucial part of daily routine:
Trim your nails straight across and file the edges to prevent ingrown toenails.
Consult a podiatrist for professional nail care advice.
5. Regular Inspection
Before or after your daily cleaning routine, take a moment to inspect your feet for any abnormalities, such as cuts, blisters, or discolorations. Early detection of issues can lead to prompt treatment and prevent complications.
6. Avoid Common Foot Hygiene Pitfalls
Don’t soak feet for prolonged periods: Over-soaking can lead to skin maceration, making the skin more susceptible to injuries.
Avoid using sharp objects on your feet: Whether removing calluses or trimming nails, always use appropriate and sanitised tools.
By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you’ll be taking a significant step towards ensuring your feet remain healthy and free from complications.
Selecting the Right Footwear
Selecting the right shoes can prevent many foot issues:
Choose shoes with good support and cushioning to prevent pressure points and ulcers.
Swap your shoes regularly to allow them to air out and retain their shape.
Inspect the insides of your shoes before wearing to ensure there are no objects or rough patches that can cause injury. Profoot Moleskin can help by smoothing any rough areas.
Avoid shoes with high heels or pointed toes.
Wearing the right socks can protect your feet from many complications:
Choose socks without seams to prevent pressure and irritation.
Opt for moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Addressing Common Foot Problems
Encounter common foot problems effectively and promptly:
Corns and Calluses: Use padding and protective products like toe foam to avoid further complications.
Fungal Infections: Regularly check for signs of fungal infections and use treatments such as Mycosan Athletes Foot or Mycosan Fungal Nail Treatment for effective treatment. Both are suitable for diabetic use but always check with a medical professional before using any foot care product.
Professional Care and Regular Check-ups
Apart from taking care at home it is advisable to:
Consult a foot specialist Getting a yearly comprehensive foot examination by a doctor or podiatrist is important.
Seek immediate care in case of injuries or if you notice signs of infections.
How often should I inspect my feet? Daily inspection is advisable, use a mirror or seek assistance if necessary.
What kind of foot specialist should I consult? A podiatrist specialises in foot care and would be the best professional to consult for foot-related concerns. The NHS can help with finding a podiatrist or chiropodist
Are there any helplines I can call for advice? Yes, many organisations offer helplines for diabetes management, such as Diabetes UK, their helpline is 0345 123 2399 they have trained advisors that can help with all issues that can occur with diabetes including foot care.
We recommend that before using any foot care products you should check with your Doctor or Podiatrist first.