Treatment of the Diabetic Foot
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet and legs. For a person with diabetes, something as insignificant as a small cut could have serious consequences. Diabetes can cause nerve damage that takes away the feeling in your feet. This problem is call Diabetic Neuropathy. Diabetes can also reduce blood flow to the feet, which makes it harder to heal an injury or resist an infection. Because of the problems caused by diabetes, you might not notice some irritation in your shoe. That is bad for diabetic patients because irritation could cause a blister to develop. That blister may then become a sore, which can lead to an infection. Infections can cause amputation of your foot or leg. As you can see, small problems can quickly escalate with diabetic patients. To help prevent diabetic foot problems, follow these guidelines:
- Examine your feet often. Perform a daily exam to search for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or any problems with the nails. Even go as far as to look at the bottoms of your feet with a hand mirror. Call our office at (615) 220-8788 if you notice anything.
- Bathe your feet every day in lukewarm water to keep them clean. Make sure the water is NOT hot, but lukewarm, about the same temperature you would use to bathe a newborn baby.
- Wash your feet tenderly. Don't be rough and scrape at them. Use a soft washcloth or a sponge. To dry after bathing, blot or pat at your feet. Make sure you get your entire foot dry, even between your toes.
- Do not put moisturizer between your toes, but keep the rest of your feet moisturized. Moisturize every day to keep dry skin from feeling itchy or developing painful cracks. DO NOT put moisturizer between your toes, though. You don't want to promote the development of a fungal infection.
- Be careful when you trim your nails. Cut them straight across and file the edges, but do not trim them too short. Cutting your toenails too short may cause ingrown toenails.
- Never trim corns or calluses. No "bathroom surgery," therefore let your podiatrist do the job.
- Always wear clean, dry socks and change them daily.
- Steer clear of socks with tight elastic bands. The elastic bands reduce circulation. Don't wear thick or bulky socks either. They may not fit well and could irritate your skin.
- Wear socks when you go to bed at night. If your feet get cold while sleeping, use socks to keep them warm. DO NOT put a heating pad or hot water bottle on your feet or in your bed to warm your feet up.
- Always shake your shoes out and look inside them carefully before putting them on your feet. You may not feel a small object in your shoe if you just put them on, so it is important to always check and make sure they are clear of anything that may be irritating to your feet.
- Your feet need to be warm and dry at all times. Avoid getting your shoes or feet wet in snow or rain. During the winter, always wear appropriate footwear and socks.
- Do not walk barefoot. Not even around your own house. Even a small scratch can cause problems, so your feet need to be as protected as possible at all times.
- Follow your doctor's instructions on keeping your diabetes and your blood sugar levels under control.
- Smoking is very bad for diabetic patients, so do not smoke. It will restrict blood flow in your feet.
- See your podiatrist regularly for check-ups. Regular exams help prevent diabetes complications in the feet.