Recent statistics show that about 8.5% of the global population is living with Diabetes; and a significant amount of portion of those people do not even know that they are with Diabetes. In its simplest definition, Diabetes occurs when you have an abnormally high blood sugar. A pretty common problem with people diagnosed with Diabetes is the damage in the nerves and blood vessels. If neglected, it can lead to foot and hand neuropathy, and eventually amputation. While there are a few medical interventions available to alleviate the numbness or loss of sensation on the foot, the following are simple but effective ways to take care of your feet and avoid complications.
1. Check your feet everyday
Taking a close look at your feet pays off. You can use a mirror if maneuvering to see all parts of your feet is difficult. Ask somebody else look at it for you if maneuvering your feet is really difficult. You should be on the lookout for any kind of opening or sore on your feet. No matter how small or superficial a skin wound is, it can lead to ulcers if left untreated. Also keep your eyes peeled for any calluses, skin redness, tenderness upon touch, or unusual warmth.
2. Take care of your toenails
Keep your toenails short and clean. Cutting them every day is not necessary, but a trim whenever they get longish is recommended. Keeping your toenails clean reduces the chance of accidentally wounding the skin surrounding them, or your nailbed. If doing this yourself is a challenge, you can have a podiatrist do it for you.
3. Avoid hot tubs
Nerve damage impairs your ability to identify if the water in your bath is too warm or downright hot. Self-scalding is a risk you are facing whenever you take a bath. A too warm water can cause blisters or wounds on your foot, and this can eventually lead to infections. If you absolutely have to have a warm bath for other health-related concerns, dip your elbow in the bath water to check the water’s temperature, or use a thermometer.
4. Keep your feet protected
Since you are going to the trouble of taking extra care of your feet, going barefoot is definitely out of the question. Whenever you are going out, make sure you wear footwear that protects your whole feet from any kind of moisture or exposure to the elements. Stay away from footwear that has openings in the heel or toe. While we’re on the topic of footwear…
5. Use comfortable shoes and proper socks
Shopping for footwear when you have Diabetes can be a bit trickier than you are used to. Though the task can be tedious, it needs to be done correctly or you run the risk of foot sores or ulcers. Make sure your foot has enough room inside the shoe, ensure the insides of your shoes do not have any seams or stitching.
Wear socks that are made from wool, cotton, or a blend of the two to control the moisture. When buying new shoes, wear the socks you usually wear. You may find it hard to identify if your shoes are too tight if you have neuropathy, so make sure they are the correct size. If your doctor recommends a specific type of shoes, wear them.
6. Invest in good Orthotics
It’s not enough that you wear the right kind of socks and shoes, sometimes you have to use specially produced inserts or paddings that give comfort to people with Diabetes. Specially made shoes for additional foot care and comfort are also available at some specialty stores or online. Seek a doctor’s advice if you are considering purchasing one.
7. Change your socks everyday
Moisture in the socks cannot be avoided especially of you are wearing shoes all day, or if the weather is too warm. Avoiding soiled socks is really important because wet, and therefore softer skin is more susceptible to punctures that can lead to sores, and eventually, infections.
8. Keep your feet clean
Wash your feet every day, especially if you went outside. This will keep your skin away dirt and grime. Soap and water is perfectly fine for this but if you’re prescribed a special kind of cleaning agent on your feet, be sure to use that. While we’re at the topic of keeping your feet clean.
9. Keep your skin dry
Cleaning your feet with soap and water is not the end of it, you must ensure that you dry your skin properly. Having damp feet in socks is not something you want. Be sure to wipe your feet properly, especially between the toes where water can be easily left. With a damp foot, you risk the development of fungus, and inevitably infection.
10. Moisturize your feet
Though I have just discussed keeping your feet cleaned, you also don’t want a too-dry skin. You can still use moisturizer or lotion on your feet, but pay close attention to your toes and the spaces between them. Having cracked skin at the rest of your feet is bad, but moisture on your toes and the spaces between them poses the risk of vulnerable skin.
11. Treat foot problems diligently
People with Diabetes and neuropathy runs a higher risk of foot woes; calluses, sores, bunions, and hammertoes. If you develop any of these, attend to them immediately so they don’t get infected. Even foot woes that seem harmless can become problems if left untreated. See a podiatrist to make sure you use appropriate products on treating your feet.
12. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise benefits you, more so if you are Diabetic. Participating in physical activities can help reducing the risk of blood clots, get yourself to do some of these activities. Even a little cardio can do wonders, but remember…
13. Avoid impact Aerobics
While exercising really does help your general well-being, be sure that you don’t put too much pressure on your feet. A lot of fitness regimens and aerobics programs have jumping, bouncing, and leaping in their lineup – these activities are not going to be good to your feet. Look for activities that do not put pressure on the feet, better yet seek advice from a fitness instructor for appropriate exercise you can do.
14. Kick the habit
Yes, this is about Smoking. Research show that the nicotine found in cigarettes can reduce the blood circulation by 70%. If you are a smoker, you are running the risk of depriving your feet of the nutritious blood that is rich in Oxygen. Being Diabetic already puts you at risk for blood vessels, keep Smoking and you almost double that risk.
15. Watch your Blood Sugar
Watching the sugar in your blood is an integral part of being health especially if you are Diabetic. If you are watching your feet closely, it becomes even more important. High sugar in your blood makes it difficult for wounds to heal, so keep a close eye on it.
16. Let blood freely flow in your feet
Elevate your feet when seated, gently massage your feet and ankles, move your toes closely, and avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time. All these are recommended to keep a good circulation of blood in your feet.
17. Make a schedule and adhere to it
Set a specific time for you to check your feet, do your exercise, and washing your feet. They don’t need to be everyday but keep it regular for easier monitoring. In this case, the devil is not in the details but in making sure you adhere to what you have set.
These tips are just supplementary. Ultimately, a professional’s opinion and help will do you great. What I’m trying to say is take these tips with a grain of salt, and follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. If you found this article helpful or enlightening, feel free to like and share them with your loved ones. For any questions or suggestions, hit us in the comment section.