Diabetic Foot Care Concerns
Diabetes has been known to man since antiquity. In the United States, 11 ½ to 12 million are affected. However, nearly 50% of the affected population is unaware of the presence of the illness. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-congenital blindness in the United States; the risk of vision loss is about 25 times greater in diabetics than in non diabetics. Diabetics bear a 15 to 20 times greater chance of renal disease than in non diabetics. Peripheral Vascular Disease, mainly of the lower extremities, occurs 15-55% of diabetics in their lifetime. The risk of limb loss due to gangrene, peripheral neuropathy is 6 to 8 times greater in diabetics than in non diabetics. The average yearly rate of amputations for diabetics is 80 per 10,000 with somewhat higher values in diabetics older than 65 years of age.
Caring for your feet:
- See your health care provider at the first signs of inflammation / infection
- Do Not smoke
- Keep your blood sugar in control.
- Check your feet at least three times a day for red spots, sores, calluses, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
- Never walk barefoot. Keep slippers by your bed to use when you get up at night.
- Do not put your feet in hot water.
- If your feet get cold, wear socks. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
- Wash your feet every day. Do not use hot water. Test the water with your hand or have someone test the water for you. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
- Do not use chemicals on corns, calluses or warts. Over the counter products are often too strong for use by people with diabetes. They can burn your feet. Also do not cut corns or calluses yourself.
- Do not cut off the blood flow to your feet with tight socks. Do not wear garters.
- Choose socks carefully. They should not have seams or other bumpy areas. Do not wear mended socks. Pull your socks on gently to prevent ripping a toenail.
- Only cut your toenails after having a podiatrist or foot health nurse show you how to do it. If they have said it is alright for you to cut your own toenails, do so carefully by cutting your toenails straight across. Do not cut them too short. Do not rip off hang nails. If you have lost feeling in your feet, ask your health care provider for advice on proper shoes.
- Use your hand to check the inside of your shoes before putting them on. Check for small stones, large seams, lasting nails, etc. The inside of the shoe should be smooth and the lining should not be torn.
- Wear flat shoes that fit your feet. They should fit your foot at the time of purchase. Wear into your new shoes gradually.