By 2045, the International Diabetes Foundation predicts that 1 out of every 8 people worldwide will be living with diabetes. If you consider that, currently, in the United States, more than 1 in 10 people has diabetes, you understand that the problem is growing.
As podiatrists, our team at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle finds numbers like these alarming since foot health is directly impacted by diabetes.
Since November is National Diabetes Month, we want to promote optimal diabetic foot care by outlining some best practices.
1. Daily foot checks
The high glucose levels in your bloodstream due to diabetes can damage your blood vessels and peripheral nerves. As a result, minor issues in your foot, such as a small cut or scrape, can quickly become major.
About half of people with diabetes develop peripheral neuropathy, which can lead to numbness in your feet, so you might not feel it when there’s a problem. That is why we recommend daily foot checks, preferably at night before bed.
Start by gently washing and drying your feet. Then, check them thoroughly for any breaks in the skin. Cuts, blisters, and scrapes can lead to openings where bacteria can enter and cause an infection. And when you have diabetes, you’re often unable to fight off infections.
If you find something, apply an antibiotic cream, cover the area, and come see us so we can clean the wound and encourage healing.
2. Wear shoes that are kind to your feet
If you’ve ever broken in a new pair of boots or shoes that look great but aren’t ideal for comfort, you know that you’re setting your feet up for blisters and more.
With diabetes, your feet can’t afford this kind of abuse. Instead, you need to opt for shoes that allow your feet to spread out and don’t place too much pressure on any one area.
We assure you that there are enough people with diabetes that manufacturers are coming out with footwear that checks both the style and comfort boxes.
3. Always wear shoes
Once you find some great pairs of shoes, please wear them at all times, even around the house. Going barefoot isn’t a great idea when you have diabetes because you risk cutting or damaging your feet.
We also recommend wearing clean and dry socks with your shoes to add a layer of protection.
4. Leave the foot care to us
It's tempting to pop a blister or remove a callus on your own. But when you have diabetes, it’s not worth the risk. Our diabetic foot care experts can take care of your foot care needs — from removing corns and calluses to dealing with ingrown toenails — without causing damage to your feet.
For more ideas on safeguarding your feet when you have diabetes, please contact one of our 14 locations in Tennessee to schedule a consultation.