Diabetic foot care: ten tips
It is estimated that more than 18 million Americans have diabetes. About 10 million diabetics are between the ages of 20 and 60. Most people in this age group have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin, but either it doesn’t make enough insulin or the cells don’t respond properly to it. The result is elevated blood sugar and sometimes elevated insulin as well. Blood sugar is high because sugar is not being taken into cells and used properly for energy. Most diabetics over the age of sixty have type 2 diabetes.
Serious complications associated with diabetes include stroke, heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, high blood pressure, nervous system diseases, and amputations. In 2002 there were 82,000 lower extremity amputations in diabetics. Six people out of 1,000 people with diabetes will have a lower extremity amputation. An open sore that heals slowly or at all (known as an ulceration) on the foot is the most common reason diabetics end up with a foot or leg amputation. More than 2 million diabetics have ulcerations and one in four diabetics with an ulcer will have an amputation. Unfortunately, more than 25% of diabetics have never heard of an ulcer.
Treatment of diabetic ulcers is difficult. Prevention of diabetic foot complications is not. Prevention of diabetic ulcerations is the key to reducing the risk of amputation. It’s important to see a podiatrist for diabetic checkups every two months to help prevent ingrown toenails, corns, and corns from becoming a problem.
Follow these steps to help prevent diabetic foot complications:
1. Check your feet every day! This is an absolute must. If you can’t reach your feet, have a friend or family member check on you. If necessary, place a mirror on the floor and put your foot on it to look for cuts, scrapes, bruises, gouges, or areas of irritation. Be sure to check between your toes. Look for wet areas, white areas, or red areas. Look for anything unusual. If you see anything unusual, make an appointment with your podiatrist.
2. Don’t walk barefoot. Needles, tacks, broken glass, wood chips can be hidden in the carpet, even if you vacuum regularly. You can prick a foot without sensation. Punctures can go unnoticed and turn into ulcerations or infections.
3. Watch out for creases in your socks. Rough seams in socks can cause areas of irritation that can lead to breakdown and ulceration of the skin. This can also result from small creases in the socks.
4. Don’t fall victim to fashion. Haute couture shoes often give rise to a high number of foot problems. Make sure the shoes are wide enough. Don’t buy shoes that are too wide or too long, as they can cause a lot of slipping. Choose shoes that are soft and flexible and allow for cushioning on the top and sides, but are stiff on the sole. Make sure they don’t fold in half. You may be eligible to have your insurance pay for extra deep diabetic shoes with custom inserts. These shoes will take the pressure off your feet. Ask your doctor.
5. Check your bath water with your hand before you step foot in it. The temperature your foot feels is very different from the temperature your hand feels when you have neuropathy. Be sure to check the temperature with your wrist. This will be much more accurate than testing the water with your foot.
6. Avoid medicated callus pads. Medicated corn pads contain acid and can be dangerous for diabetics. Yes, it will remove the callus, but it will most likely remove all the surrounding skin as well. What you will be left with is an ulceration. Check the foot products you buy to make sure they are safe for diabetics.
7. Dry between your toes. Increased moisture between your toes can cause the skin to break down. This will eventually lead to an ulcer between the toes. Sores between the toes go unnoticed for longer and can be difficult to treat.
8. Do not use a heating pad on your feet. Although many diabetics complain of cold toes, a heating pad is not a good way to warm them if you have neuropathy. The heating pad could be placed too high and cause a burn, without your knowledge.
9. Know your risk. Some diabetics do not have loss of feeling or circulation in their feet. They are not at risk of developing ulceration and have a low risk of infection becoming a problem. Others have severe neuropathy or circulation problems and don’t know it. It is important to know where you stand. You want a podiatrist to evaluate you and tell you what your risk is and what steps you need to take to prevent these things from happening.
10. Do not cut your toenails, calluses, or calluses. If you have loss of feeling or blood supply, ask your podiatrist to trim corns, calluses, or toenails.