Diabetic Foot Care: Tips and Tricks For Diabetics on How to Prevent Complications
It’s no secret that diabetic foot care is important. Foot problems are very common for those with diabetes and if unnoticed or untreated, it can lead to more serious complications.
So what are these complications and why are diabetics prone to them?
Diabetes can cause nerve damage, poor blood flow or circulation, and potential for infections or other serious complications.
Diabetes peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is the nerve damage that can be caused from chronic high blood sugars. DPN can be dangerous as it leads to numbness, loss of sensation, or pain in your extremities — mainly your feet! This can be dangerous for diabetics because they are less likely to feel a foot injury (especially something small like a blister or a cut) and diabetes already would make these more difficult to heal. Unnoticed and untreated foot injuries (yes, even the small ones) can quickly become infected which could quickly turn into something more serious. DPN is the most common complication of diabetes.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) has more to do with circulation. PAD is a result of narrowed arteries which directly affects the blood flow to parts of your body. Diabetics are prone to PAD due to blockage in their blood vessels because of excess fat deposits. As a result of the poor circulation, PAD causes your extremities (usually your legs) to not receive enough blood flow to keep them moving and functioning properly.
OK, so now we know what the foot problems are, but how do we prevent them or treat them?
Wash your feet in warm water only using a mild soap. Avoid soaking your feet though as this can cause dry skin. Make sure you’re drying your feet carefully, especially in between your toes. While doing this, make sure that you’re thoroughly checking your feet for any cuts, cracks, ingrown toenails, blisters, etc. Cover any lesions with a suitable dressing to keep it dry and to keep any dirt out. Apply a good lotion to your heels and soles (keep reading for our pharmacist recommendations!) and wipe off any excess lotion that was not absorbed by the skin as excessive moisture can promote infections. Try to avoid putting lotion between the toes as well because it isn’t easily absorbed here. And Lastly, wear fresh socks and well-fitting shoes every day!
Here are some tips on which products work best for your feet:
Lotions: Glaxal Base, Aveeno, and Aquaphor are all good options. Try to avoid creams with heavy fragrance if you can.
Well-fitted shoes: should be supportive, have low heels (anything less than 5cm high) and should not rub or pinch the feet in any way. You should go shoe shopping in the late afternoon rather than in the morning. If you try on new shoes in the late afternoon, your feet would be slightly swelled, this would give your shoes the best fit possible. If you purchase in the morning before any swelling, when your feet do swell in those new shoes you just bought, it could be very uncomfortable (and painful — ouch!).
Other Tips: Elevate your feet when you’re sitting down. Exercise regularly to promote healthy circulation in your legs. Always wear something on your feet, try to avoid going barefoot in any occasion. Wear shoes or socks around the house and try to avoid wearing anything tight on your legs or feet that might hinder the circulation (tight socks, tight leggings, skinny jeans, knee-high socks, etc.)
Diabetic foot care is important, if you have any concerns with your feet or notice something irregular, it is best to contact your doctor, foot-care nurse, or a diabetic specialist.
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