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How to Protect Your Feet with Diabetes

How to Protect Your Feet with Diabetes

protect your feet


If you’re diabetic or know someone who is diabetic you’ve likely heard the horror stories about the effect of diabetes on a person’s feet. Uncontrolled blood sugar affects multiple body systems which can lead to a lot of trouble for your feet.

First, it can reduce blood flow to your feet, which makes healing from what should be a small blister or scrape much harder than you expected. Second, peripheral neuropathy, which develops with diabetes affects the nerves in your feet, reduces the sensations in your feet, which means you may not feel the start of a blister or a scratch until it’s infected. Finally, uncontrolled blood sugar can cause dry skin. Cracks in dry skin are breeding grounds for bacteria and infection.

But cheer up, buttercup, it’s not all bad news. Many small injuries can be treated successfully if found early. And the old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has never been more applicable. Read on to learn how to prevent infections with your feet and how to spot problem areas fast.

Inspect and clean your feet every day

Washing your feet sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to wash with warm — not hot — water. Test the water with your hand first. Neuropathy makes it difficult for your feet to distinguish between hot and cold. Also skip the foot soak. Soaking for a long time can make your skin weaker and more susceptible to injury.

When you’ve finished washing your feet, dry them well, especially between the toes. Do a complete inspection of your feet every day. If you have trouble, place a mirror on the ground or ask a family member or friend for help.

Soothe dry feet with lotion

Dry, cracked feet open the door for infection. Use a light lotion to keep your skin soft. Do not lotion between the toes because lotion here can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure your feet are soft but not wet from lotion when you finish.

Don’t go barefoot

Summer days running barefoot through the yard make for great childhood memories, but it’s time to let them stay where they are. Even going barefoot in the house opens your feet to scrapes, scratches and other injuries you may not notice until they become infected. Wear shoes both inside and out to protect your feet.

See a podiatrist

Corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, and hammertoes can change the way your favorite pair of shoes fit. Add a podiatrist to your medical team to ensure all your foot ailments are treated before they affect the way your shoes fit.

Find the right shoes

Ill fitting shoes or shoes with seams on the inside can cause blisters and injuries to your feet. When the nerves in your feet weaken you may not notice a blister until it’s become infected. Any redness on your feet is an indication your shoes aren’t fitting correctly. A podiatrist can help you choose shoe inserts called orthotics or orthopedic shoes. Always ensure you wear good socks, with no seams, to protect your feet from rubbing the inside of your shoe.

Stick with low-impact exercise

Exercise helps you manage your blood sugar levels. High impact exercise, however, poses risks to your feet especially if you suffer from neuropathy. Choose a low impact exercise such as walking, biking, swimming or yoga to keep your body strong and reduce the stress to your feet. Before you begin a new exercise check in with your provider.

Quit smoking

Cigarettes damage and constrict your blood vessels which impacts blood flow throughout your body, especially to your feet where blood flow may already be slow due to diabetes. Putting down your cigarettes benefits your whole body, so talk to your provider about a program to help you stop smoking. Your feet (and lungs and blood vessels) will thank you.

Control your blood sugar levels

We can’t talk about the effects of diabetes on your feet without talking about your blood sugar. You can delay and possibly even prevent problems with your feet by controlling your blood sugar. A combination of exercise, diet, and medication can help you keep your numbers where they need to be. If you’re struggling to maintain your blood glucose levels talk to your provider.

Your medical provider is a key player in your fight to keep your blood sugar under control. Make sure to mention any odd sensations in your feet and legs including numbness, tingling or pain. No change is too insignificant to mention to your provider. If you do not have a regular provider to help you manage your diabetes, click the appointment button below and request a time to talk to one of our providers.


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