25% of Diabetics will suffer from health issues surrounding their feet. Unfortunately, these issues escalate rapidly and can lead to amputations. Advanced diabetes leads to a compromised Automatic Nervous System (ANS). This results in the bodies impaired ability to respond to foot wounds and regulate perspiration and oil production in the feet. Feet become dry and cracked. Over time, glucose spikes lead to peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is nerve damage. This leads to loss of sensation. The combination of an impaired ANS and neuropathy can have devastating results. Vigilant foot care is a must for diabetics. The following steps must be a part of their daily activity.
Wash, dry and inspect feet and between toes on a daily basis. Use a mirror to inspect the bottom of the feet and the back of the heel. Use warm water rather than hot. The loss of sensation in the diabetic foot will prevent you from receiving signals of burn injury. Inspect for any cuts, scrapes, blisters, ulcers, irritation and any other possible injury or infection. Treat any problem immediately.
Inspect feet every time socks and shoes are put on or taken off. Have your doctor examine your feet at least once a year. You can remind yourself of this task by removing socks and shoes as soon as you are in the examination room.
Perspiration and oil production may not be appropriately regulated in the diabetic foot, so it is very important to avoid dry and cracked skin on the feet. This can lead to sores and a resulting infection. Moisturize feet on a daily basis. Athlete's Foot is a common ailment amongst those with diabetes and should be addressed immediately.
When cutting toenails, cut them straight across, don't follow the curve of the toe. File any rough edges with an emery board. When toenails are cut too short or improperly, the nail will grow into the flesh and the ingrown nail may cause an infection. If an ingrown toenail does occur, soak foot in warm salt water, dry thoroughly, apply a mild antiseptic and bandage the toe. If any redness or swelling occur, contact your doctor.
Always wear appropriate shoes, socks, hosiery and stockings for diabetics. Ill fitting shoes that rub on pressure points in the foot lead to skin breakdown and ulcers. Change shoes at least twice a day to minimize chance of pressure sores. If experiencing swollen feet and legs, discuss the use of anti-embolism stockings with your doctor.
Improve circulation by lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and quitting smoking if you smoke.
Contact your doctor at the first sign of infection or of a wound that is not healing.