Diabetic foot care
More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and anywhere from 14-24% of these individuals with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulceration within their lifetime. Diabetic foot ulcers are serious because they can lead to lower extremity amputations.
Prevention is key to avoiding diabetic foot ulcerations. Here are my top tips for preventing diabetic foot ulcerations:
Tips for preventing diabetic foot ulcerations
- Keep your blood glucose well controlled. Keeping your blood sugar levels controlled with decrease your risk of developing peripheral neuropathy, as well as the numerous other complications related to diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy causes a reduction in sensation and can decrease your ability to know when you have injured the tissues of your foot. It is important to work with your primary care provider or endocrinologist to reach your HbA1c goals.
- If you’re a smoker, quit. Smoking chokes off the body’s ability to get blood, which carries oxygen, to your feet. Smoking also inhibits the body’s healing cells from properly working, decreasing your body’s ability to heal a wound.
- Perform daily foot exams and shoe exams. Use a hand-held mirror if necessary, or enlist the help of a family member or friend if you are unable to see all surfaces of your feet. As for shoe gear, make sure you wear properly fitted shoes which conforms to the shape of your foot. You want a ½ inch space between the end of the shoe and your longest toe. I like laces or straps to adjust for a snug fit. You may benefit from diabetic insoles or custom orthotics. Additionally, avoid tight dress socks.
- Ensure your feet are properly hydrated. I prefer my patients to apply non-alcohol-based creams once daily. Avoid placing lotion between your toes to avoid skin breakdown. Also, avoid soaking your feet, as this can actually lead to further drying of your skin.
- Receive regular foot exams by a trained physician. This may help you identify problem areas and address any issues before it becomes a major problem. Additionally, appropriate nail or callus care has been shown to decrease the incidence of foot ulcers in diabetics.
Diabetes and your feet
How are your feet related to diabetes? Dr. Thompson explains in the video below.