Diabetes is a common medical condition. In fact, it’s so common that you’d be hard pressed to get through an hour or so of your favorite programming without hearing or seeing an advertisement about the importance of controlling it or the newest insulin pens or pumps to reach the market.
While this health condition affects more than 37 million Americans, don’t let its prevalence fool you. Diabetes complications can be serious and even life-threatening, affecting every system throughout your body — literally from your head to your feet.
In this blog, the expert podiatry team at Cardio Metabolic Institute discusses diabetic foot care and five ways to care for your feet and keep them healthy if you have diabetes.
Why foot health matters when you’re diabetic
Many people have heard stories from a friend or co-worker about someone who had to have a foot or leg amputated due to diabetes complications. It’s pretty scary stuff. While it’s true that each day about 230 diabetics undergo a lower limb amputation due to diabetes complications, have you ever wondered why?
After all, isn’t diabetes simply an imbalance in blood sugar or glucose? Yes and no.
Diabetes is an imbalance that causes an excessive amount of blood sugar or glucose in your bloodstream. Typically one of two things is happening — either your body isn’t producing enough insulin to properly fuel your body’s cells or your cells don’t react to the insulin, as it should.
Regardless of the scenario, the impact is the same. Over time, the excessive buildup of blood glucose stays in your bloodstream and compromises healthy blood circulation and nerve receptors as well as your ability to properly heal and react to infections.
So when you’re taking that leisurely walk on the beach barefoot or chasing your grandkids around the yard and cut your foot on a shell or stone, you may not even notice it or feel it.
1. Wash and carefully examine your feet daily
One of the best things you can do to make sure you immediately catch a blister, sore, or cut on your feet or ankles is to wash your feet daily and give them a good once over. Look for any type of break in the skin, and don’t forget to check your ankles and the soles of your feet.
Thoroughly dry your feet, especially between your toes, which are a particularly vulnerable area for fungal infections. Complete your daily foot hygiene routine by applying a moisturizer, which not only feels great but also does wonders for staving away dryness that can cause cracked skin.
2. Avoid walking barefoot
It may feel liberating, but diabetics should avoid walking barefoot. Flip-flops provide minimal protection for the sides of your feet, but they’re much better than walking barefoot. Close-toed shoes with study soles are best.
The issue with totally exposing your feet is that because diabetics may have circulation and nerve receptor issues, walking on something sharp that could cut or puncture your foot may go unnoticed. Even a quick trip to your front stoop to pick up a package isn’t worth the risk. Just say no to bare feet.
3. Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly
Fashion seekers may hate this tip, but diabetics should always wear shoes that fit well and are comfortable. Blisters or sores from ill-fitting shoes may seem fairly innocent, but not if you suffer from diabetes. When the general population may not have a problem healing from a shoe bite, diabetics are typically slow to heal.
4. Seek immediate treatment for foot wounds and ulcers
Do you notice a common theme here? Do everything you can do to remove the risk of developing an infection. Poor circulation, the inability to readily feel pain or discomfort, and a tendency for slow healing converge to create a higher risk to develop a stubborn wound.
More than anything else, you want to avoid the development of a foot ulcer — an open wound or sore that’s particularly dangerous. Remarkably, foot ulcers are the leading medical issue that initiates 80% of all amputations. Be vigilant and seek treatment right away, even for what may seem like a minor injury.
5. Schedule regular diabetic foot exams
Don’t forget to augment your at-home foot hygiene routine with regularly scheduled diabetic foot exams. Here at Cardio Metabolic Institute, our podiatrists customize diabetic foot exams to incorporate preventive care, treatment solutions, counseling, and tips on managing your glucose levels.
We can even help you with custom orthotics, removing corns and calluses, and safely trimming your toenails.
To learn more about optimizing your foot health or to schedule a diabetic foot care visit, contact Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, Monroe Township, Edison, and East Brunswick, New Jersey. Click the “Book online” button or call today.