How to Handle a Diabetic Feet and Prevent Amputation
If you are a diabetic, you need to take good care of your health and keep a close watch on your blood sugar level. You need to maintain a healthy diet. Special attention needs to be given to your feet, too. Most people take care of their feet for aesthetic purposes and to avoid foot problems that can pose as an inconvenience. Diabetics take care of their feet for the same reasons, plus 1 major reason – to prevent amputation! So how should a diabetic take care of his/her feet?
Special Feet Care a Must for Diabetics
Minor cuts, blisters, calluses, ingrown toe nails, corns and the like are normal foot problems that can be easily remedied. For the diabetic, these foot problems can lead to serious infections. High sugar levels in the blood is what differentiates a diabetic from an ordinary person.
- Blood vessel damage is a usual result of high blood sugar levels which leads to poor blood circulation in the feet. This means that if you have a wound in your feet, poor blood flow will slow down the healing process.
- Nerve damage in the feet is another result of high blood sugar levels. With damaged feet nerves, you will not be able to feel pain, cold or heat in your feet.
- High blood sugar levels can hinder white blood cells from being your first line of defense against infections. Thus a minor cut can easily develop an infection.
Feet amputations are mostly related to diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcer is one of the main causes of these amputations. A diabetic foot ulcer is an open wound that commonly appears at the bottom of the feet. Foot ulcers develop because of blood vessel damage, nerve damage and infections. Thus, if you are diabetic, you are always at risk of losing a leg, a foot or a toe.
Taking good care of your feet can prevent the loss of any of your lower extremities to amputation. It is always important that you immediately get in touch with your doctor should you notice anything out of the normal.
Here are 5 simple but important ways on how to take care of your diabetic feet to lessen or even prevent the risk of amputation.
1. Carefully Clean Your Feet and Toenails Regularly
Thoroughly washing and drying your feet everyday is the best way to care for a diabetic feet. Washing and cleaning your feet and toenails will guard you against having feet problems. Here is the right way to do it.
- Wash your feet with lukewarm water and mild soup.
- When washing your feet, be gentle. Use only a sponge or very soft washcloth.
- Thoroughly dry your feet especially on the areas between your toes.
- Apply lotion on your feet but never on the areas between your toes. Lotion should be one that is recommended by your doctor.
- Never use any antiseptic or chemical solutions on your feet. They may be too harsh and cause a cut or a blister.
- Inspect your feet for any cuts, swelling, blisters or nail problems.
- Cut your nails straight across and not too short. Cutting your nails too short might cause an ingrown nail to develop. Do not cut the edges, just file them.
- When you notice any calluses or corn, have a doctor take care of it – not you!
2. Choose the Right Shoes and Socks
It is extremely uncomfortable to be wearing ill-fitting shoes. You can have a blister or a callus. Remember, when you are diabetic, even the simplest cut on your foot can be deadly.
- Choose shoes that are neither too tight nor too loose. This will prevent foot trauma, calluses and blisters.
- Buy shoes late in the day or at night. This is the time of day when feet are “swollen.” If it fits just fine when you buy them, it will fit fine the following morning.
- Avoid buying shoes that need some “breaking in.” They should already be comfortable at the time you buy them.
- Avoid using the same pair of shoes everyday.
- Before putting on your shoes, shake and inspect the inside. Your feet may not feel a foreign object inside the shoe and it may give you a cut.
- Choose socks for diabetics as they have additional cushion, have no elastic tops and are made of fabrics that are moisture-free.
- If your shoes is new, do not wear them for more than two hours.
- Avoid wearing flip flops and sandals. They expose your feet to the elements which could give you a cut.
3. Going Barefoot is a Big No
A diabetic has a lot of limitations. One of them is walking barefoot. Never walk barefoot inside or outside your home, especially in the beach or pavement. Beach sand or the pavement can be too hot for your feet and you may have a blister. When barefoot, you may also step on something you may not fee that will give you a cut.
4. Avoid Extreme Heat and Cold
Extreme hot and cold temperatures can pose danger to a diabetic. It can create a cut that will take time to heal. Here are some precautionary measures you can take.
- If you are feeling cold, wear socks when you sleep. Avoid hot water bottles or heating pads. These may cause minor burns which may develop into an infection.
- During winter, wear socks and shoes that will keep your feet comfortably warm. Avoid getting your feet wet in the rain or snow.
- When washing your feet, only use lukewarm water.
5. Good Blood Circulation
Low blood circulation or even the loss of it can damage your foot’s soft tissues. Here are what you can do to maintain good blood circulation in your feet and legs.
- Avoid sitting for long hours.
- Rest your feet on a foot stool while seated on your desk or when watching TV
- Do some feet exercises while seated like ankle rotation, wiggling of the toes and stretching your feet.
- Raise your legs against the wall to keep the blood flowing correctly.
- Avoid crossing your legs for extended hours.
- Avoid wearing tight socks and garters.
- Quit smoking. Smoking hinders the function of blood vessels in your body – especially in your feet.
- Maintain normal levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.
All the above ways to take care of a diabetic feet should be remembered and followed. There is no best choice, all of them are the best. There is one more important thing to remember. Have your feet checked by your doctor regularly. There are some foot issues that only a doctor’s meticulous eyes can detect.
Are you diabetic too? How do you take care of your feet? Share with us some of your thoughts in the comments section.