When you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is overwhelming to keep everything straight in regards to keeping your body protected, following your diet, check your blood sugar, regular checkups and medical visits. It is a new diagnosis that is difficult to embrace because it requires a lifestyle change. Otherwise, you will encounter complications related to diabetes earlier including eye, kidney, heart and circulation problems and numbness of your feet and hands. Foot care can get lost, forgotten or neglected in this time of adjustment and learning. And proper foot care is critical in the overall health of the diabetic patient.
Starting to live a healthy diabetic life from the beginning can help avoid/delay the potential complications associated with diabetes. Small subtle changes in your daily routine can help to minimize the risk of diabetic foot problems specifically such as a daily diabetic foot exam.
Daily inspection of the diabetic foot is important as it can catch early signs of a problem before it becomes more serious. Check your feet daily for any red areas, bleeding or drainage, calluses, blisters, sores or anything that looks abnormal. If you cannot see the bottom of your foot, use a mirror by placing it on the floor in a well-lit room to help you see this part of the foot. This Is most important for diabetics who have neuropathy or loss of sensation in their foot.
Contrary to what one might think, the ability to feel pain is a gift. Pain allows us to protect ourselves from things that may harm us. In the case of a diabetic with Advanced neuropathy, I have had patients come in with nails sticking through the soles of their shoes into the bottom of their foot and the patient doesn’t even know it. This is severe neuropathy. Controlling your blood sugar by following your diet and monitoring your blood sugar daily can help reduce the potential for you developing such advanced neuropathy. And neuropathy is what results in most ulcers/sores on the foot, not circulation.
Proper shoes and correct fitting is very important as well. Diabetics should not walk barefoot. They should be fitted professionally for appropriate shoes and insoles to reduce their potential to develop sores on their feet.
Wash your feet daily and dry thoroughly including in between the toes. Apply cream to your feet ankles and legs but not between your toes.
Never treat calluses or corns with corn remover or corn plasters. These often lead to sores and infection.
If you use tobacco, stop. Tobacco products and diabetes is a 1 - 2 punch and increases your risks for complications dramatically.
Take your shoes and socks off every time you go to the doctor. A foot exam is very important in maintaining the health of a diabetic patient. If you have a major amputation, your chances are better than 50% that you will die within five years.
IPG is once again collecting socks for our veterans. Last year we collected nearly 4000 pairs of socks. Gloves and blankets will also be accepted. If you would like to contribute to our sock drive in the Seymour office, please bring in new unused pairs of socks or contribute to our sock drive before December 31. Our offices have a competition to see who collects the most pair of new socks. We would like to win that for our Seymour office this year. So bring those socks in before December 31!
Walter G. Warren, DPM, CPed