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All About Diabetic Foot Care

Bev Gravdahl, B.S.N., R.N., F.C.N., FCA Project Coordinator

People suffering from diabetes must be especially careful with their feet; the same applies to the aged due to poor circulation that usually accompanies age. Infection of the feet in diabetic conditions can be very serious. Care of your feet can add years to your life – and certainly improve your quality of life.

Feet are among the most vulnerable parts of the body, yet most people tend to neglect them.  For many, this is not too serious but for the person with diabetes neglecting your feet can have serious consequences. People who have had diabetes for a long time often have damage to the nerve and blood supply of their feet.  The symptoms of nerve damage include numbness, loss of feeling, tingling, burning sensations or pain.  Those who have impaired blood supply include pain at rest, especially at night; pain in the calf when walking, and feet that feel cold to the touch.

Every year thousands of people have toes, feet and even legs amputated because of diabetes-related foot problems.  Many of these amputations may have been prevented by proper foot care.  Be sure to take extra care of your feet if you have diabetes.  Here are some tips for care of your feet:

  • Wash your feet daily with mild soap and water.  Dry them carefully, especially between the toes which is where germs (i.e. Athlete’s Foot) easily can breed and skin breakdown can occur.
  • Improve circulation with regular exercise.
  • Do not sit with your legs crossed, or walk barefoot, even in the house.
  • Ask a member of your family or a friend to examine your feet on a regular (daily) basis, especially if your eyesight is poor or you cannot see the bottom of your feet. Do not let them cut corns and callouses for you.
  • Never use animal wool around your toes; it shrinks and may cut off circulation.
  • If you sit close to a fire or heater, protect your legs with a blanket to prevent damage to the skin.
  • Do not use hot water bottles, because the heat can be dangerous.  Use an electric blanket instead, but remember to switch it off before getting into bed.
  • Do not use commercial corn pastes, paints or plasters.  They can cause serious damage to the skin. Consult a physician for treatment of concerns.
  • Do not smoke.  Smoking impairs the circulation, particularly in people with diabetes. It can seriously enhance foot and leg problems.
  • Avoid stockings, tights or socks that are too tight – this may restrict circulation.  Also avoid hosiery that is too loose because this can wrinkle and irritate the skin.
  • Wear proper footwear. Shoes that fit well can help prevent many foot problems. Shoes that are too tight or too big, can cause corns, callouses, ulcers and nail problems.
  • The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that if you have a cut or break in your skin, or develop an ingrown toenail, call or see your healthcare provider.

Check out these resources for some helpful additional diabetes information:

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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