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Can you believe that some people feel that just having diabetes, it's a foregone conclusion that there will be an amputation of some part of the foot at some point? It's simply not the truth. If there's a problem, it's essential that you reach out, as soon as you notice one, to get it resolved.
Even better is to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. Here are some simple but important things you can do to #PreventDiabetesFootProblems.
First, get into the habit of inspecting your feet. Every day. The best time to do this is at night when you're getting into bed. What are you looking for? You're looking for cuts, redness, bleeding, pus, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other change to the skin or nails. If you can't inspect your feet yourself, use a mirror or a camera to help. You can also ask a family member to help you. Why every day? If you find something during your inspection, you know that it is no more than 24 hours old. The faster you treat a problem, the faster and more likely we are to get it healed completely.
Next, you want to wash your feet daily in warm water. Be careful not to use water that is too hot. I recommend testing the water with your elbow much like you would when you bathe a baby. This is important because if you have numbness due to peripheral neuropathy, it can affect your hands also.
Next, be sure to never go barefoot. Even inside around the house, it's important to protect your feet with shoes or house shoes that have a good sole to them. If your feet are numb, you will not feel if you step on something like a splinter or a piece of glass or a carpet tack.
You also want to make sure you wear well fitting shoes. You don't want your shoes to have any hotspots that will cause problems. If you have a foot deformity, such as a bunion or hammer toe then find a shoe that has extra depth. Shoes like this are marketed specifically to diabetics for this very reason. You also want to make sure that you wear socks with your shoes. Again, there are specific socks, designed for people with diabetes. These socks have some compression, but lack the tight band on top of the socks, which can cut off your circulation.
Generally speaking, you should trim your toenails straight across. There are exceptions to this rule, however. If your nail is particularly curved, then you should round off the corners. You want to make sure there are no sharp edges or corners that can cut into you. If you have corns or calluses, they're a sign that there's excess pressure in certain areas of your feet. Never try to remove them yourself. You also should never use the over-the-counter corn or callus removers. They contain an acid that can burn the healthy skin too.
You should get into the habit of taking your shoes off at your doctor's visits, not just your podiatrist. Your primary care doctor should look at your feet when you're there for an examination as well. I recommend that you visit with your podiatrist at a minimum of every six months. If you have any risk factors, like peripheral arterial disease or peripheral neuropathy, or you've had a diabetic foot ulcer, the visits will likely be more frequent.
There are times when you shouldn't wait until your next appointment to get your feet checked. Be sure to give us a call, if you have pain in your legs or cramping in your buttocks, thighs, or calves during physical activity, this is a sign of poor circulation. If you have tingling, burning or pain in your feet, these are signs of peripheral neuropathy. Loss of sense of touch or ability to feel heat or cold very well are other signs of peripheral neuropathy. If you see a change in the shape of your feet over time, loss of hair on your toes, feet or lower legs, dry cracked skin on your feet, a change in the color or temperature of your feet, thick and yellow toenails, a fungus infection such as athlete's foot between your toes, or a blister, sore, ulcer, infected corn, or ingrown toenail.
If you catch one of these problems when they're small, it will prevent them from becoming more significant and severe problems down the road. If
you've noticed any of them, contact the office and say "I'm diabetic and I think I have a problem" and we'll get you in for an immediate appointment.