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Diabetes: A Guide To Taking Care Of Your Feet

Proactive Measures for Diabetics to maintain their foot and ankle health

diabetes foot care ankle care toes care

You play a vital role in preventing the complications that diabetes can have on your feet and lower legs. Follow these guidelines and contact your foot and ankle surgeon if you notice any problems.

Inspect your feet daily

If your eyesight is poor, have someone help you, or use a handheld mirror. Watch for skin or nail problems like cuts, scrapes, redness, drainage, swelling, foul odor, rash, discoloration, loss of hair on toes, small injuries, or changes to toenails. If your foot is swollen, red, discolored, hot, or has changed in shape or size, you may have a fracture. Call the PA Foot and Ankle Associates office immediately.

Leg pain is a sign

If you have pain in your lower legs at night or when you're active, you may have diabetic peripheral neuropathy or a blocked artery. Call the East Penn Foot and Ankle Associates office immediately for a thorough evaluation.

Have your circulation and sense of feeling tested regularly

Testing for peripheral neuropathy is a must for diabetics, whether you've been recently diagnosed or if you've had the disease for decades. Roughly half of all diabetics develop a neuropathy, the early symptoms of which can be subtle and easily overlooked.

Don't perform "bathroom surgery"

If your toenails are hard and thick, have them properly trimmed at our office. Thick toenails can be difficult to trim and you may cut yourself. Same goes for corns or calluses.

Keep floors free of sharp objects

Tidy housekeeping is very important for diabetics, especially those with peripheral neuropathy. Make sure there are no needles, insulin syringes, small children's toys, or other objects on the floor that may cut your feet.

Barefoot is a no-go

Unfortunately, going barefoot is a bad idea for diabetics, as small abrasions or cuts may occur on the feet which can lead to an infection. Wear shoes at all times.

Here are simple things diabetics can do to preserve their foot health: 

  • Always keep your feet warm.
  • Don't get your feet wet in snow or rain.
  • Don't put your feet on radiators or in front of the fireplace.
  • Don't smoke or sit cross-legged - both decrease blood supply to your feet
  • Don't soak your feet.
  • Don't use antiseptic solutions, drugstore medications, heating pads or sharp instruments on your feet.
  • Trim your toenails straight across and avoid cutting the corners. Use a nail file or emery board to smooth rough edges. If you find an ingrown toenail, contact our office for treatment.
  • Use a quality moisturizer to keep the skin of your feet soft, but don't put any lotion between your toes.
  • Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water
  • When drying your feet, pat each foot with a towel and be careful between your toes.
  • Wear loose socks to bed.
  • Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.
  • When drying your feet, pat each foot with a towel and be careful between your toes.

Buy shoes that:

  • Are comfortable without a "breaking in" period
  • Fit properly in width, length, back, bottom of heel, and sole
  • Do not have a pointed-toe style or high heels
  • Are made with leather upper material
  • Have deep, wide toe boxes

When wearing shoes:

  • Don't wear the same pair every day to avoid developing corns or calluses
  • Look inside each shoe for any sharp objects before putting it on
  • Don't lace shoes too tightly or too loosely
  • Wear clean, dry socks every day
  • Choose thin cotton socks in summer - they're more absorbent
  • Wear square-toe socks which don't squeeze your toes together
  • Avoid stockings with elastic tops which may constrict circulation in your lower legs