Most of us neglect our feet. But it’s important to take care of our feet if we want to stay active and comfortable throughout our lives. For people with diabetes, careful, frequent foot care is even more critical. Diabetes can reduce blood flow to your feet, depriving feet of oxygen which makes it harder for blisters, sores and cuts to heal. If neuropathy sets in, it can cause numbness. When you can’t feel those cuts and blisters, you’re more likely to get sores and infections.
Here are a few simple foot care tips that will keep your feet healthy and reduce the risk of complications and infections.
Inspect Your Feet
Make sure to inspect your feet daily. Check between your toes. Use a mirror to help you see all areas on the bottoms of your feet. Any signs of redness or blisters, cuts, cracks, swelling or color changes should be reported to your healthcare provider immediately.
Does The Shoe Fit?
Protect your feet by wearing shoes that are comfortable and fit well with room to wiggle your toes. Don’t buy shoes that feel too tight and hope they will stretch. Wear thicker socks to pad your feet and cushion any calluses or sore spots.
Toe the Line
Wash your feet daily in lukewarm soapy water and make sure that you dry them thoroughly. If neuropathy is present, you may not be able to feel if the water is too hot, and burns could result. Protect your feet from temperatures that are too cold, as well. Prolonged cold can decrease circulation even more.
Always cut nails straight across and then smooth the edges with an emery board. To make cutting easier, trim them after your bath or shower.
Do Not Self-Treat
See a podiatrist for corns, calluses or ingrown toenails. Do not attempt to self-treat these conditions.
If your skin is dry, apply cream or petroleum jelly to feet and heels, but avoid the area between your toes. If cream sits in the crevices it can make it more susceptible to infection.
Keep Circulation Flowing
Put your feet up when you’re sitting down and don’t cross your legs. This helps keep the blood moving to your feet. You want good blood flow to your feet because this helps prevent infection. Don’t smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow down to your toes.
Ask your healthcare professional about an exercise program that’s right for you. Regular exercise improves circulation to all your extremities.
Practice preventative care like the tips listed here, every day. Make sure your healthcare professional assesses your feet at every routine visit. If you notice anything that does not look normal, follow up with your healthcare professional immediately. The Bennington Area VNA & Hospice offers public foot clinics in the region. Check for dates and locations at http://www.bavnah.org/ and in local newspapers.