I have diabetes, how do I look after my feet?
Have you heard that many people with diabetes end up in hospital because of foot problems? In fact, it is the leading complication of diabetes and the most common cause of hospitalisation for people with diabetes in Australia. Of course, not all foot problems will require a hospital stay as they can vary from minor foot complaints to wounds that don't heal. Serious complications can often be avoided by careful self-management and through regular checkups.
Unfortunately, loss of sensation in the feet means that many simple injuries to the foot, such as cuts, corns and calluses, can go unnoticed. If untreated, these injuries may not heal due to lack of blood supply and infection. Severe infection can be a medical emergency and sometimes requires amputation of the infected part of the foot.
Below are some tips on self-managing your foot care if you have diabetes:
- People with high blood glucose levels are at increased risk of infection, meaning even small cuts or abrasions can result in a severe infection. Getting your levels under control and keeping them as near to normal as possible can prevent further damage to your feet.
- Good foot hygiene is very important. Wash your feet daily with a mild soap and warm water. Dry your feet carefully (especially between your toes!) and check for any cracks in your skin or bleeding.
- Keep nails trimmed! Cut straight across using nail clippers and avoid cutting down into the side of the nail. Use a nail file or disposable emery board to smooth sharp nail edges.
- Prevent or treat dry skin conditions by applying moisturiser daily. Put moisturiser everywhere on your feet, except between your toes.
- Wear comfortable socks without tight elastised cuffs or bulky seams, and supportive, closed-toe shoes that fit well.
- Keep the circulation flowing to your feet by staying active. Some physical activity every day will help to keep the blood circulating around your body. If you have a foot wound though, speak to your podiatrist about what types of exercise you can do that won't cause further harm to your wound.
- Quitting smoking will help, as smoking is known to reduce blood flow to extremities.
- Look at your feet every day. If something looks like it should hurt, but it doesn't, go and see your podiatrist or GP. If you have lost feeling in your feet, you may not notice a problem. A lot of serious foot problems, such as infected and severe foot wounds, could have been avoided if they had been identified and treated early.
Hopefully, you now understand why you need to look after your feet when you have diabetes. A diabetes foot assessment by Steven who has extensive experience with Diabetic assessment and treatment, is recommended to establish your foot health status. He will be able to undertake simple testing to assess the sensation in your feet, determine the blood supply to your feet and identify any potential risk areas on your feet. We can then determine whether you need to return annually, or if you need to be seen more frequently. Call 9395 8205 and book in today to establish your foot health and a personalised treatment plan.