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Diabetes and Feet

Having diabetes puts your feet at additional risk because:

  • Blood circulation to your feet may be reduced. Poor circulation can cause dry skin, cracked heels, changes in nail growth and slow healing.
  • You may have diabetic nerve disease. This means your feet may not feel when something is too hot, too cold, or when injuries occur. Minor problems may go unnoticed, and if left untreated can result in serious complications e.g. infection or gangrene.
  • Diabetes may make you more susceptible to infection because of the above two factors, and high blood sugar which supports bacterial and fungal growth.

Protecting Your Feet:

  1. Inspect your feet daily for cuts, blisters, or sores. Use a mirror to check the bottom of your feet. See you doctor or foot professional right away if something is wrong.
  2. Check inside your shoes for pebbles, rough seams, or other possible irritants.
  3. Don't mend your socks (throw them away) as the seam can injure your skin.
  4. Protect your feet from heat: Don't use heating pads or hot water bottles. Keep your feet away from open fires and radiators. Use sunscreens on the tops of your feet.
  5. Protect your feet from the cold: If your feet are cold at night, wear socks (non-skid to prevent slipping if you have to get up during the night). If exposed to very cold weather for prolonged time, check your feet often for frostbite.
  6. Keep your skin well moisturized: Dry skin can be itchy, which may cause you to scratch, which in turn can cause a skin injury. Use a good moisturizer.
  7. Never walk barefoot indoors or outdoors. Keep your slippers at your bedside so you can put them on first thing in the morning or if you have to get up at night.
  8. If you are doing weight-bearing exercise (prolonged walking, running, treadmills) check your feet for signs of irritation.
  9. Be very careful when self-treating various foot and nail ailments. If you have corns, don't use commercial corn removal products and don't attempt to cut out a corn; see a foot care professional. Minor calluses can be gently filed with a fine emery board or pumice, but seek professional help for thick calluses. See your doctor before using commercial athlete's foot, plantar wart, ingrown toenail, or fungal nail products.

Improving Your Circulation:

  1. Put your feet up when sitting for long periods.
  2. Don't sit with your legs crossed for long periods, as this impairs blood circulation.
  3. Don't wear tight shoes, socks, or stockings that restrict blood flow.
  4. A warm (not hot), brief (longer than 15 minutes will dry your skin) footbath, foot exercises, walking, and foot massage improves circulation.
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