According to the CDC, approximately 37.3 million, or 1 in 10 Americans have some form of diabetes.
If you are one of these Americans, you would know that diabetes can cause diabetic neuropathy, a condition that results in damage to the blood vessels and nerves. This can cause numbness, pain, or tingling in your feet, and make your feet less capable of healing themselves.
This makes diabetics particularly susceptible to foot ulcers or infections on the feet, which can eventually lead to gangrene and even amputation. That’s why it’s so important for people with diabetes to take extra care of their feet. Here are six tips on how to do just that.
#1. Keep Your Feet Clean
Even if you don’t think you have any open wounds, you still might have small, barely noticeable scratches that can cause issues later on. Toe fungus and build up of dirt underneath the nails can also potentially lead to infection.
To avoid infection, wash your feet every day with warm water and soap. Be sure to clean between your toes, as this is where fungus and bacteria like to grow. Dry your feet completely, and then moisturize the sole and top of your feet, but not the nooks and crannies where fungus can grow.
#2. Inspect Your Feet Daily
Check your feet thoroughly every day for any new cuts, bruises, redness, or swelling. If you have difficulty reaching your feet or seeing tricky areas like the sole, ask a family member or friend to help. You can also use a mirror.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your doctor right away. Catching problems early can help you avoid serious complications further down the line.
#3. Take Care of Your Toenails
Toenails can easily become ingrown, cracked, or thickened, which can lead to infection. Be sure to have them trimmed regularly, and if you have any concerns about your toenails, consult a podiatrist.
If you’re diabetic, it’s best to avoid cutting your own nails. This is because you might not be able to feel it if you cut them too short and injure yourself. However, if you must do them yourself, do it carefully, and make sure you’re always trimming straight across and away from the skin.
#4. Protect Your Feet With Shoes and Socks
One of the most simple and effective methods of preventing foot problems is to wear shoes and socks at all times, and go barefoot as little as possible. Shoes and socks protect your feet from cuts, scrapes, blisters, and other injuries.
If you want to have extra protection, you can even get toe socks to keep your toes from rubbing together. This gives your toes extra cushion and prevents problems like bunions and blisters.
#5. Try Feet Support and Toe Separators
Like everyone else, people with diabetes can have far less foot and toe problems if their feet are aligned properly. Using foot support aids like insoles and inserts can help distribute your weight evenly, which prevents foot pain. Toe separators can increase blood flow to your toes and keep your feet in their natural posture, which helps to prevent injuries and promote healing.
#6. Get Your Feet Checked Regularly
Even if you’re doing everything right, it’s still important to get your feet checked by a doctor or podiatrist at least once a year. This is because some problems, like nerve damage, can develop without any symptoms.
Although diabetics are at an increased risk of developing foot injuries and complications, there are many things they can do to prevent these problems. By following these simple tips, you can help keep your feet healthy and avoid serious issues down the road.
And if you have any concerns about your feet, be sure to consult a doctor or podiatrist. They will be able to help you develop a foot care plan that’s right for you.