From Fitness to Foot Exams, This is How to Protect Diabetic Feet

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Engaging in light exercise is just one of my top 10 tips for managing your diabetes!Anyone with diabetes needs to schedule regular check-ups with their podiatrist, but the self-care you perform in-between visits is just as crucial for maintaining your health. Here are my top 10 tips for maintaining your diabetic foot health at home:
  1. Check your feet daily for cuts, blisters, bruises, cracked skin, swelling and/or color changes. Use a mirror to inspect the soles of both your feet (ask a friend for help if you can’t see well.) Immediately report any changes to your doctor.
  2. Avoid walking barefoot, even around the house, to protect your feet from injury.
  3. Before putting on your shoes, carefully inspect them for any rough spots, stones or sharp edges that could hurt your feet. Don’t buy shoes with inside seams.
  4. Wear socks whenever possible to keep blisters at bay. Wash socks every day.
  5. Wash your feet with soap and water every day, making sure to clean between the toes as well. Always dry well afterwards.
  6. Moisturize your feet daily with a non-allergic cream or lotion. Pay special attention to your heels but skip the skin between your toes as the moisture could cause blisters.
  7. Invest in an orthotic device, especially if you have flat feet or other structural foot concerns.
  8. Engage in regular, gentle exercise. All programs should be approved by your doctor and footwear should be appropriate for your activity level.
  9. Test hot water with your elbow before submerging your feet—neuropathy may make your feet less sensitive to heat, leaving you vulnerable to burns.
  10. Quit smoking! Nicotine will impact blood flow, which can already be compromised by diabetes.

Now you've got the basics down, let's get more specific (but still simple) with our guideline to caring for your diabetic feet.  

How to Perform a Diabetic Foot Exam at Home in 4 Easy Steps 

1. Gently clean your feet with soap and warm water. 

2. Take a seat on a bed, chair, or toilet in a well lit area, with both of your legs hanging comfortably in front of you. Lift one foot onto your opposite leg so you can see the whole foot, but keep the supporting leg as relaxed as possible.

3. Carefully dry your foot, taking special care to pat down the area between your toes.

4. Rotate your foot so you can see the sole of your foot and begin your scan there. If you aren’t particularly flexible, you may need to use a handheld mirror to see all the hard-to-reach spots.

Ok, so I've got you covered in terms of how to look at your feet. But, that information is pretty useless...yes, I get it...if you don't understand what, exactly, you're supposed to be searching for. So, what that in mind, please bear with me and keep reading through this post! 

What to Look for in a Diabetic Foot Exam, by Foot Section

I'll take care you one or two of your annual diabetic foot exams. But I need you to do the work in between!

On the balls of your feet: look for bumps and irregular textures, as this area is prone to developing calluses or corns. Proper-fitting footwear can reduce your risk.

On the soles of your feet, look and feel for bumps and lumps. These may be signs of muscle or bone injuries. 

On your heels, look and feel for dry, rough, or cracked skin. Even small cracks can leave you open to infection. To stay safe, moisturize daily with odorless, colorless lotion. You may want to make this ritual the closing move of your exam, so you never forget. And don't moisturize between your toes; bacteria love warm, moist places. Now we've made your foot care routine a bit easier, let's talk dining out!

Now, while I'd like to think that this blog was fairly instructive, I know that even I'm not perfect. So, if you've still got questions. I've still got more answers: you've just got to come in and see me! Just schedule an appointment, and I'll help educated you on the basics of diabetic foot care--and beyond! Plus, I'll take care of that bi-annual in-office foot exam while we're at it. Don't you love killing two birds with one stone? I know I do! 

 

 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.