Since diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in the USA, you probably have heard some basic information about insulin resistance, maintaining blood glucose levels, and watching what you eat. You may have also heard that diabetic foot care is important, but don’t know why or how to do it. Here are some answers to your questions about feet and diabetes.
Why Foot Care Is Important with Diabetes
Two common complications of diabetes are poor circulation and neuropathy (nerve damage). Blood flow and nerve problems often show up in your feet first, because they are farthest from your heart and brain and may not receive the nutrients needed for cell growth and regeneration.
When you can’t feel what’s happening in your feet, problems can quickly expand and become serious. Thus, caring for your feet not only helps them stay healthy, but can also provide clues to problems elsewhere in your body. If blood vessels in your feet are constricted, likely there is plaque buildup in other arteries as well, which puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. If your feet tingle or feel numb, you could have damage in other nerves, too.
How to Check Your Feet with Diabetes
The most important thing you can do for diabetic feet is to check them over every day. After you have carefully washed and dried them, sit down, lift one foot on your other knee, and examine it all over.
- Look for cuts, blisters, scrapes, rashes, or skin color changes.
- Notice any odd shaped joints (bunions), toes (hammertoes), or nails (ingrown).
- Feel for lumps, swelling, calluses, unusual warmth or coldness, or areas of numbness.
- Check your nails for spots or discoloration, and the skin between your toes for rash or flaking.
- Sniff for any unusual odors that could indicate an infection.
If you find signs of any of these problems, make an appointment so we can examine your feet and head off serious problems with quick treatment. The smallest of sores can develop into a serious foot ulcer that does not heal. Open wounds like this are always subject to infection, gangrene, and the possible need for amputation. Be vigilant, so it doesn’t happen to you.
Cultivate Healthy Foot Habits
You can and should maintain basic habits that will do much to protect your feet. The most important is to control your blood sugar levels to prevent nerve and blood vessel damage. This means taking your medication and watching what you eat to avoid spikes.
The next is to seek our care right away if you have a wound or infection. We can’t stress enough the dangers of letting even a simple condition go untreated.
You should also eat right and get enough exercise to prevent plaque buildup and promote healthy circulation. When nutrients are reaching the nerves, muscles, and bones in your feet, those tissues stay in better health and function as they should.
Besides washing your feet each day with warm water and soap and drying them completely, use moisturizer to keep the skin soft and supple and head off cracks that could split and bleed. If you can see and reach them easily, clean and trim your toenails regularly to avoid ingrown nails and fungal infections.
Be careful what you put on your feet. Roomy socks and shoes will reduce pressure and irritation and help avoid issues like foot deformities, calluses, corns, and swollen, red spots. Wear protection at all times, but especially on hot surfaces (pavement, beach sand) or in the cold.
Get Professional Diabetic Foot Care in Berkeley, CA
A podiatrist like Yuko Miyazaki can be a crucial part of your care team for managing your diabetes. We provide care for diabetic wounds, medical nail trimming, and diet and exercise tips that fit your situation. Call our office on Colby Street in Berkeley at (510) 647-3744 and schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll help you keep your feet in the best shape possible, so you can stay mobile and active despite your diabetes.