A diabetes diagnosis changes many things.
Many parts of your day that you never had to put much thought into may now require stricter attention. What choices should you make in your diet? When should you check your blood sugar? Do you have everything you need when you go somewhere? Will events get in the way of your management?
It can all seem incredibly daunting; at least initially. The silver lining is that, after some initial challenge, humans are good at turning behaviors into habits. What initially feels foreign and interrupting can eventually become simple and commonplace.
We bring this up because a part of diabetic care that sometimes gets overlooked deals with your foot health. The effects of diabetes can be harmful throughout the body, but the feet are at especial risk.
Even if your feet currently feel fine, it is well worth incorporating diabetic foot care into your life now. Developing habits that allow you to take diligent and preventative care of your feet now will pay dividends. Good care now can help keep complications from happening in the future.
The simple truth is that there are very real risks of developing severe problems in the feet. We do not want to see anyone potentially lose their mobility or even their limb if we can help it.
While scheduled foot checkups are a good part of proper care, there are still a great many things you can do for yourself daily, no matter where you may be.
The Best Thing You Can Do
The first and arguably most important routine you should develop for your foot care is inspecting your feet every day.
The best way to set this as a habit is to a steady, reliable time for yourself to do so. After you get out of the shower? Right before bed? Make sure it’s a time you won’t feel too rushed or tired to skip out on the inspection.
A good daily foot inspection checks both the tops and bottoms of your feet for signs of injuries, cuts, discoloration, bumps, or anything else that isn’t supposed to be there. Catching these abnormalities and monitoring them is how you keep them from turning worse.
Why is this daily check so important? Diabetes tends to damage both circulation and nerves over time—especially in the feet. This means that not only might injuries to the feet heal more slowly over time, you might start not even feeling them at all! Small cuts can turn into big ulcers, and even the structure of the foot can begin to collapse—all without you noticing it.
If you can’t see your whole foot, do not be afraid to feel along with your fingers, or acquire the help of a mirror, selfie stick, or loved one. If you do see something out of the ordinary, keep track of it over a few days. If it shows no signs of improving or starts to look worse, give us a call.
Other Tips for Home
Here are some additional routines and reminders when you’re relaxing at home:
- Trim Your Toenails Regularly. Trim properly, straight across, and gently file the edges with an emery board or nail file. Keeping your toenails from growing too long can help prevent accidental cuts against your feet or toenail injuries from snagging against a sock.
However, don’t go overboard. Cutting your nails too short can increase their chances of becoming ingrown. Always make sure there is at least some white at the end of your nails.
- Keep Circulation Flowing to Your Feet. Don’t contribute to any circulation challenges that might be ongoing in your body. This means quitting smoking, absolutely. In smaller ways, this also means putting your feet up while sitting, whenever you can. It can also mean getting up and moving around during the day, wiggling your toes and ankles for a few minutes 2-3 times per day, and not crossing your legs for extended periods of time.
- Moisturize Your Feet, If Needed. Keeping your feet smooth and moisturized can help prevent problems arises from dryness and cracks. A thin coat of lotion can often do the trick, with post-showering and before bed being good times to do so (and hey, it’s also a good time to inspect your feet, right?).
Make sure not to moisturize between your toes unless absolutely needed, however, and to not leave a lot of it between the toes if you do. Moisture trapped between the toes can lead to fungal infections and other skin problems. Also, be sure to dry thoroughly between the toes after bathing.
- Be Careful Around Hot and Cold. Having trouble feeling pain also means having trouble feeling temperature. Wear shoes on hot sand or pavement (I don’t think we need to tell you not to go outside in snow barefoot), and test water before placing your feet in it. Many burns in diabetic patients happen without them realizing it at the time!
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Diabetic foot care shouldn’t have to be a solo endeavor. That’s why we’re here in your corner!
We can help you identify potential problem areas that might otherwise become overlooked, and take care of them before they become trouble. Custom orthotics and shoes, as well as suggestions for stretches, exercises, and changes around the home, can all have a huge preventative impact.
We also have the treatments and methods to handle any problems when they do arise. Being cautious and proactive is always going to serve you much better than holding out and waiting for something to potentially clear up. We promise there’s no question too small when it comes to diabetic foot health!
Our Colby Street office in Berkeley is always happy to hear from new and returning patients. Give us a call at (510) 647-3744 or fill out our online contact form to reach out to a member of our staff.