Daily diabetic foot care:
Suggestions to help prevent foot problems in people with diabetes who suffer from neuropathy or vascular disease include:
Check your feet daily for signs of swelling, redness or heat– these may be signs of infection.
Wash your feet daily and dry well between the toes.
Use methylated spirits if there is a lot of moisture between your toes.
Moisturise dry skin, especially cracked heels (for example, with cream) but not between the toes.
When buying new shoes
Don’t be rushed into buying shoes that you aren’t completely happy with.
Avoid open-toed shoes and narrow toes.
Have your feet measured and try on the shoes to check they are long enough, wide enough and deep enough.
Nerve supply to the feet
It is important to remember that many people with nerve damage have no symptoms and are unaware of the problem. Nevertheless, they are still at risk of developing ulcers.
Nerves are the ‘wiring’ of the body. They carry messages (feelings) to your brain from the rest of your body. The nerves to your feet are the most likely to be affected by diabetes.
Circulation problems can be caused by narrowing or hardening of arteries as they become clogged up. Common causes include:
high blood fats
raised blood glucose levels.
How to improve circulation for people with diabetes
Suggestions to improve your blood circulation include:
Control your blood fat levels.
Keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
Don’t smoke. Smoking causes spasm and narrowing of blood vessels. Smokers have more heart attacks, strokes and circulation problems than non-smokers.
Exercise daily. A brisk walk will help keep the blood flowing around your body.
Foot care for people with diabetes
When you have a problem, Foot problems can be avoided if you take care of your feet and act quickly. Get your feet checked at least once a year by a doctor or podiatrist to detect problems early and help prevent complications.
Good foot care can help people with diabetes to avoid foot problems. Take care of your feet, get regular check-ups from your doctor or podiatrist and act quickly if you have a problem.
Damaged nerves (neuropathy) can cause painful, insensitive or numb feet. Some people with neuropathy experience uncomfortable sensations such as burning, tingling and pain.
Foot problems are a common complication of this condition. Your feet can be affected in two ways. You may also lose some feeling in your feet due to nerve damage.
All people with diabetes should have their feet checked at least once a month by a podiatrist. Most cases of gangrene result from delayed treatment of foot injuries.
Poor blood circulation can affect the blood supply to your feet. When this is reduced, sores and cuts may not heal. When walking, an early sign of poor circulation to the feet may be pain or cramps in the backs of your legs.
How to avoid injury to feet with damaged nerves
If you have circulation problems or reduced feeling in your feet:
Once each month, see a podiatrist at least.
Do not attempt to treat calluses and corns yourself.
When to see your doctor
Podiatrists are experts in looking after feet and lower limbs. They are highly trained health professionals who deal with the prevention, diagnosis and management of foot problems. You don’t need a referral to seek advice or treatment from a podiatrist.
See your doctor if:
you develop pain, throbbing, heat, swelling or discolouration in your feet
a cut or injury becomes red or does not heal.
Never go barefoot.
Wear appropriate shoes to protect your feet.
Avoid injury by wearing well-fitting, protective shoes– do not wear open-toed shoes.
Keep toenails trimmed. Cut toenails along the shape of the toe and file rough edges.
Have calluses or corns treated by a podiatrist
Check the temperature of your bath water with your elbow before stepping into the bath.
Be careful not to put your feet too close to radiant heaters.
Every six months, check for signs and symptoms that may indicate you have a problem. These may include reduced circulation or sensations, abnormal foot structure or poor hygiene.
See a podiatrist.
Where to get help
Local community health centre
Good foot care can help people with diabetes to avoid foot problems. Take care of your feet, get regular check-ups from your podiatrist and act quickly if you have a problem.
Things to remember
Diabetes can reduce blood circulation and damage the nerves to the feet.
Ask your doctor to examine your feet regularly for any evidence of nerve damage or poor circulation.
If you take care of your feet and act quickly if you have a problem, Foot problems can be avoided.
Podiatrists are highly trained health professionals who deal with the prevention, diagnosis and management of foot problems.
Foot problems are a common complication of this condition. The nerves to your feet are the most likely to be affected by diabetes.