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Diabetes Foot Care
last updated:
Wed, 12/08/2010 3:17 PM

When you have diabetes, proper foot care is very important. Poor foot care with diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including possibly having to remove the foot or leg (amputation).It's important to understand the connection between diabetes and foot care. As a person with diabetes, you are more vulnerable to foot problems because diabetes can damage your nerves and reduce blood flow to your feet. By taking proper care of your feet, most serious health problems associated with diabetes can be prevented.

  • Wash and Dry Your Feet Daily
  • After washing, use lotion on your feet to prevent cracking. Do not put lotion between your toes.
  • Examine Your Feet Each Day
  • Take Care of Your Toenails
  • Check the tops and bottoms of your feet. Have someone else look at your feet if you cannot see them.
  • Check for dry, cracked skin.
  • Look for blisters, cuts, scratches, or other sores.
  • Check for redness, increased warmth, or tenderness when touching any area of your feet.
  • Check for ingrown toenails, corns, and calluses.
  • If you get a blister or sore from your shoes, do not "pop" it. Apply a bandage and wear a different pair of shoes.
  • You may want a podiatrist (foot doctor) to cut your toenails.
  • If you have Medicare your doctor can prescribe diabetic shoes and Medicare will cover the cost.
  • Be careful when exercising
  • Walk and exercise in comfortable shoes.
  • Do not exercise when you have open sores on your feet.
  • Protect your feet with shoes and socks
  • Never go barefoot. Always protect your feet by wearing shoes or hard-soled slippers or footwear.

Your health care provider should examine your feet at each visit. In addition, see your health care provider if you have any of the following problems with your feet:

  • Athlete's foot
  • Sores or wounds on your feet
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Increasing numbness or pain
  • Calluses
  • Redness
  • Blackening of skin
  • Bunions
  • Infection
  • Hammer toes (when the middle joint of toes is permanently bent downward)
  • Footwear Test: make sure your shoes fit properly.

Use this simple test to see if your shoes fit correctly:

  1. Stand on a piece of paper. (Make sure you are standing and not sitting, because your foot changes shape when you stand.)
  2. Trace the outline of your foot.
  3. Trace the outline of your shoe.
  4. Compare the tracings: Is the shoe too narrow? Is your foot crammed into the shoe? The shoe should be at least 1/2 inch longer than your longest toe and as wide as your foot.

The best way to manage your diabetic feet are to keep your blood sugars monitored and your blood sugars under control. When your blood sugar is out of control you are at risk of developing diabetic ulcers and skin problems. Make sure you take care of your feet. Proper foot care is very important. Just remember that more than 60% of nontraumatic lower leg amputations occur in people with diabetes. Many times if care was taken with the proper foot care, the amputation may have been prevented.

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Dawn Caldwell is a Physical Therapist in Memphis, Tennessee with Methodist Healthcare. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.

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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000

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