10 Steps to Healthy Feet for People with Diabetes
September 12, 2017
Having healthy feet means taking active daily steps to preventing problems and complications. This includes management of blood sugar levels and overall health, but there are some specific things you can do to prevent foot complications.
In fact, just a few minutes a day, along with regular medical care can drastically help protect you against foot ulcers and amputations. The possible consequences of ignoring your feet are devastating and costly. However, a few key things can help you prevent problems and detect the early warning signs of an injury to get you the care you need sooner.
Step 1: Regular Visits with Your Care Team
Your care team including your primary care doctor, CDE, endocrinologist, neurologist, and podiatrist are the best team of people to help you protect and care for your feet.
If you haven't had a comprehensive foot exam, ask for a referral to a podiatrist with experience in diabetes, foot ulcers, and amputations. Furthermore, if you experience any of the signs and symptoms of neuropathy or peripheral arterial disease ask for a comprehensive evaluation.
Step 2: Ownership of Your Health
You are in full control and ownership of your health. Take time to understand your diabetes and any associated conditions that you might have. Read, listen, and digest information pertaining to your medical record, health history, and personal health.
You are your best advocate when it comes to your health, you see your feet every day and are on the front lines of protecting them.
Step 3: Management of Associated Conditions
Elevated blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, neuropathy, and PAD may all play a role in the health of your feet. Work with your primary care provider as well as the rest of your care team to manage any and all associated health concerns and conditions.
Step 4: Daily Visual and Physical Foot Checks
Check your feet and toes two times a day, in the morning and at night before you go to sleep. The purpose of these checks is to determine if there's anything abnormal or out of the ordinary happening with your feet.
Check your feet in a well-lit room, and use a mirror or light to look at and inspect all areas of your feet and toes. Make note of any wounds, changes in temperature, or issues with your feet.
Call your doctor immediately if you notice an injury to your foot. Even a minor injury like a cut can develop into a more serious complication for individuals with diabetes.
Step 5: Wear Proper Footwear and Socks
Many people with diabetes wear the wrong shoes, don't wear socks, and walk barefoot. You want shoes that aren't too loose but also are not too tight. Get measured and fit for shoes that help with the prevention of forming blisters or calluses.
Similarly, wear socks daily to keep feet warm and dry, as well as, as an extra layer of protection. Make sure you wear socks as much as possible, especially when you are at home. Most people actually move around the most when they are at home and walking around barefoot can put you at risk of a foot injury.
Look for shoes and socks that provide support, comfort, and protection.
Step 6: Temperature Monitoring
Monitoring foot temperature has been clinically proven to be more effective for early detection and prevention of diabetic foot ulcers than daily visual foot checks alone.
Step 7: Keep Feet Clean
Carefully wash, clean and dry your feet on a daily basis. When cleaning your feet make sure that you use warm, not hot, water and check the temperature prior to cleaning.
Be sure that you wash all areas of your feet, cleaning in-between the toes. Pat, do not rub, to dry your feet.
Step 8: Take Care of Toenails
Trim your toenails straight across, or have a medical professional do it for you. Check your toenails during your daily foot checks for any discoloration and ingrown toenails. Your diabetes care team is the best equipped to help you manage your toenails.
Step 9: Keep Blood Flowing to Your Feet
Wiggle your toes and move your ankles daily. Discuss with your care team about how to check your blood flow, along with the proper ways to keep blood flowing.
Your doctor may recommend not smoking and not crossing your legs for long periods of time. You'll also want to talk to your doctor about a physical activity program.
Step 10: Get Into a Footcare Routine
Start today, and get into a regular routine. The sooner you work on prevention and early detection, the better you're able to help protect the health of your feet.
Write out a foot care plan with your care team, and stick to it!