Diabetic Foot Care Regimen:
Taking care of your diabetic feet!

Our feet can really take a beating. If you think about it, we are on our feet everyday: walking the dog, going to work, grocery shopping, or even doing chores around the house. Our feet get us where we need to go and we should honour and pamper them for all of their hard work. Let us take a step back and understand the importance of our feet and why it’s crucial to keep them healthy.

Foot care should be important to everyone, but especially for those who are diabetic. Diabetes can greatly affect your foot health, causing a wide range of complications if not kept in check. If you have diabetes or think you may be at risk, continue reading to discover tips on how to take care of your feet, monitor for warning signs and more.

Why Diabetic Foot Care?

Diabetics are at high risk for nerve damage and reduced circulation to the extremities that can potentially lead to serious health problems. Surprisingly, our feet can be very telling. Dark toenails may be a sign of respiratory issues or inadequate blood flow. Swollen feet (edema) could be the cause of a kidney dysfunction. The point is that our feet are crucial to understanding our bodies and what’s going on inside and out. If diabetic feet are not cared for, there is a greater risk for infection, or worse, amputation. Therefore, it’s important to take precautions to maintain a healthy lifestyle and foot care regimen.

Here are a few tips to maintain healthy diabetic feet:

  • Get a proper diabetic screening
  • Routinely check the health of your eyes 
  • Track your HbA1c and cholesterol levels
  • Check your blood sugar and blood pressure daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly 
  • Maintain a healthy weight based on your BMI

As a diabetic, it’s so important to follow a care plan that is suited for you.

Your Diabetic Foot Care Regimen

Here are some tips to maintain healthy feet: 

1. Check your Feet

Check your feet and legs completely — from your knees to your sole. Inspect your toenails and check for any discoloration, brittle nail, or thickness. If you notice any blisters, sores, redness or bruising anywhere on the lower limbs, contact your doctor immediately.

2.Wash your Feet

Make sure to clean your feet daily. Use a mild soap (like baby soap) and warm water. Harsh soaps and hot water do not mix and can damage or burn your skin. Use the back of your hand to double check the water temperature as loss of sensation in the feet is very common with diabetes. 

3.Dry Your Feet.

Once you’re done washing your feet, be sure that they are completely dry. Bacteria multiply faster in moist areas, so pat your feet dry to ensure there are no wet spots. Don’t forget to dry very well between your toes!

4. Moisturize your skin.

After drying your feet completely, moisturize the top and bottom of your feet. DO NOT put lotion between your toes as this will create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Don’t have foot cream? Check out this blog to find out what you can get at your local drug store. Whatever cream you use, be sure that it is labelled as diabetic friendly.

Keeping Your Feet Healthy

Monthly foot care isn’t enough for diabetics. A healthy foot care regimen should become a habit and a part of your daily lifestyle. Here are some tips on how to maintain your foot health:

  • Protect your feet from heat and cold
  • Never try to remove warts, corns, callouses, or foot lesions by yourself. Consult with a licensed foot care nurse or physician.
  • Avoid walking barefoot, even around the house. Your feet can be vulnerable to cuts and bruises. 
  • Do not put anything on your feet without an advanced foot care nurse or doctor’s approval. Antiseptic creams and other products can harm the skin and cause further damage.
  • Do not sit with your legs crossed or stand in one position for long periods of time. This can stop blood flow to the lower limbs and cause the foot and leg to swell.

Caring For Your Toenails

It is possible to do diabetic foot care on your own. Yet, vision problems and loss of sensation can make toenail maintenance difficult and unsafe. If you feel like you can trim your toenails, do so with caution. Consult with your doctor or foot care specialist to show you how to cut them properly.

Here are a few tips to follow when taking care of your diabetic nails:

  • Choose a good pair of clean, sharp nippers.
  • Trim your toenails after washing your feet, when they are soft.
  • Cut your nails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.
  • Stay away from the corners of your toenails – DO NOT cut them. Use a nail file to smooth them down on the sides. Click here to see where you can buy affordable emery boards.
  • DO NOT trim too close to the skin.
  • If you aren’t confident that you can see or reach your toes, get an advanced foot care nurse or healthcare provider to trim them for you.

Choosing Shoes With Care

When it comes to diabetic feet, loss of sensation is extremely common. Minor cuts and bruises are harder to notice and can lead to serious infection. It’s important to protect your feet at all times.

  • Avoid sandals, thongs and any open-toed shoes that expose the feet.
  • Choose comfortable shoes that fit well in the toe box. DO NOT buy shoes that you think will stretch out – chances are they won’t.
  • Buy shoes made with breathable material such as leather, suede or canvas.
  • Check your shoes daily for any rips or bumps which may cause unwanted pressure or friction. 
  • Wear clean, dry socks without seams or tight elastics. White socks make it easy to spot blood from cuts and scrapes you may not feel.

Contact me here for more suggestions

Signs & Symptoms of Diabetic Feet

Here are some signs and symptoms of diabetes that should not be ignored:

  • Change in colour or shape of the feet
  • Yellowing or thickening of the toenails
  • Loss of hair or reduced hair growth on lower legs, feet and toes
  • A loss of sensation to temperature and touch
  • Burning, tingling, or pain in the feet or lower limbs
  • A sudden onset of blisters, corns, calluses, ulcers and/or ingrown toenails

If you notice any foot changes, make an appointment with your chiropodist or foot specialist immediately. Delay can lead to serious health problems.

Potential Foot Care Complications

Along with daily monitoring and maintenance  of diabetic feet, regulating blood sugar levels is also crucial. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause permanent nerve damage and reduced blood circulation to the extremities. Once this occurs, the feet are vulnerable to ulcers and infections. Without sufficient blood flow to these areas, the body’s ability to heal is greatly reduced. This can lead to skin and tissue death (gangrene), and ultimately amputation.

Take Care Of Yourself

Your foot health should be a priority — especially if you are a diabetic. See your foot care specialist every 6-8 weeks or as often as advised. Don’t be afraid to speak up about any concerns, including corns, calluses, ulcers, or pain. Diabetes-related foot issues should never be ignored. 

Ask your physician to refer you to an advanced diabetic foot care nurse or chiropodist in your area. If you are interested in booking a consultation with me, call 613-704-3307 or send me an email here

Thanks for reading,

Jana

RPN, FCN

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