Your feet can last a lifetime with good care to avoid serious problems that can lead to toe, foot, or leg amputations. Foot care is very important for people with diabetes especially if you have:
- loss of feeling in the feet
- changes in the shape of the feet
- foot ulcers or sores that do not heal
Nerve damage can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You may not feel a pebble inside your sock that is causing a sore. You may not feel a blister caused by poorly fitting shoes. Foot injuries such as these can cause ulcers, which may lead to amputation.
Keeping your blood glucose (sugar) in good control and taking care of your feet every day can help you avoid serious foot problems.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Diabetes Education Program developed this guide to help you make your own plan for taking care of your feet. Share your plan with your health care team and ask for help when you need it.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR DIABETES
- Make healthy lifestyle choices to help keep your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol levels close to normal. Doing so may help prevent or delay diabetes-related foot problems as well as heart, eye, and kidney disease.
- Work with your health care team to make a diabetes plan that fits your lifestyle. The team may include your doctor; a diabetes educator, a nurse, a dietician, a foot care doctor called a podiatrist (pah-DI-ah-trist), and other specialists.
CHECK YOUR FEET EVERY DAY
- You may have serious foot problems, but feel no pain. Check your feet for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, and infected toenails. Find a time (evening is best) to check your feet each day. Make checking your feet part of your every day routine.
- If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, use a plastic mirror to help. You also can ask a family member or caregiver to help you.
WASH YOUR FEET EVERY DAY
- Wash you feet in warm, not hot, water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get dry afterwards.
- Before bathing or showering, test the water to make sure it is not too hot. You can use a thermometer (90 degrees to 95 degrees is safe) or your elbow.
- Dry your feet well. Be sure to dry between your toes. Use talcum powder or cornstarch to keep the skin between your toes dry.
KEEP THE SKIN SOFT AND SMOOTH
- Rub a thin coat of skin lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly on the tops and bottoms of your feet.
- Do not put lotion or cream between your toes because this might cause an infection.
SMOOTH CORNS AND CALLUSES GENTLY
- If you have corns and calluses, check with your doctor or podiatrist about the best way to care for them.
- If your doctor tells you to, use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses after bathing or showering. A pumice stone is a type of rock used to smooth the skin. Rub gently, only in one direction, to avoid tearing the skin.
- Do not cut corns and calluses. Don’t use razor blades, corn plasters, or liquid corn and callus removers – they can damage your skin.
TRIM YOUR TOENAILS EACH WEEK OR WHEN NEEDED
- Have a foot care doctor trim your toenails if you can’t see well, if you cannot reach your feet, if your toenails are thick or yellowed, or if your nails curve and grow into the skin.
- If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them with clippers after you wash and dry your feet.
- Trim toenails straight across and smooth them with an every board or nail fail.
- Do not cut into the corners of the toenail.
WEAR SHOES AND SOCKS AT ALL TIMES
- Wear shoes and socks at all times. Do not walk barefoot – not even indoors – because it is easy to step on something and hurt your feet.
- Always wear socks, stockings, or nylons with your shoes to help avoid blisters and sores.
- Choose clean, lightly padded socks that fit well. Socks that have no seams are best.
- Check the insides of your shoes before you put them on to be sure the lining is smooth and that there are no objects in them.
- Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet.
PROTECT YOUR FEET FROM HOT AND COLD
- Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement.
- Put sunscreen on the top of your feet to prevent sunburn.
- Keep your feet away from radiators and open fires.
- Do not put hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.
- Wear socks at night if your feet get cold. Lined boots are good in winter to keep your feet warm.
- Check your feet often in cold weather to avoid frostbite.
KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING TO YOUR FEET
- Put your feet up when you are sitting.
- Wiggle your toes for 5 minutes, two or three times a day. Move your ankles up and down and in and out to improve blood flow in your feet and legs.
- Do no cross your legs for long periods of time.
- Do not wear tight socks, elastic or rubber bands, or garters around your legs.
- Do not smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to your feet. Ask for help to stop smoking.
- Work with your health care team to control your A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure and cholesterol.
BE MORE ACTIVE
- Walking, dancing, swimming, and bicycling are good forms of exercise that are easy on the feet.
- Ask your health care team to help you plan a daily activity program that is right for you.
- Avoid activities that are hard on the feet, such as running and jumping.
- Always include a short warm-up and cool-down period.
- Wear athletic shoes that fit well and that provide good support.
BE SURE TO ASK YOUR HEALTH CARE TEAM TO:
- Tell you if you are likely to have serious foot problems. If you have serious foot problems, your feet should be checked at every visit by your doctor.
- Check the sense of feeling and pulses in your feet at least once a year.
- Show you how to care for your feet.
- Refer you to a podiatrist if needed.
- Decide if special shoes would help your feet stay healthy.
TIPS FOR PROPER FOOTWEAR
- Athletic or walking shoes are good for daily wear. They support your feet and allow them to “breathe.”
- Never wear vinyl or plastic shoes because they do not stretch or “breathe.”
- When buying shoes, make sure they are comfortable from the start and have enough room for your toes.
- Don’t buy shoes with pointed toes or high heels. They put too much pressure on your toes.
- Ask your doctor about Medicare or other insurance coverage for special footwear. You may need special shoes or inserts to prevent serious foot problems.
Make sure you save this important guide for yourself and share with those you love who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Help spread the good news that FEET CAN LAST A LIFETIME!
If you live in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area and need a foot doctor to care for your diabetic feet, podiatrist Dr. Rosemarie Caillier will be happy to help you. Dr. Caillier specializes in preventative foot care and can provide regular foot care treatments to keep your feet safe and healthy.