Respect Your Feet or Lose Them — why diabetic foot care is so important
The number of people with diabetes is on the rise, and according to Diabetes UK there are more than 20 leg, foot or toe amputations every day — 169 a week — due to diabetes. Many people don’t realise just how important it is to take extra precautions with their feet and legs if they are diabetic. The shocking truth is that four out of five of these amputations could have been prevented with the right knowledge and extra care.
Taking care of the minor issues when they crop up could prevent them from becoming serious health concerns, explains a Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, who said;
“Every year, tens of thousands of people have a lower limb amputation related to their diabetes. Encouraging people with diabetes to attend their annual foot check, which is available for free on the NHS, is also very important.
“This check can be the difference between keeping and losing a foot. People should also be reminded to check their own feet daily, and if they notice anything odd, including red spots, hard skin, bruises or cuts and sores that haven’t healed properly, they should have their feet checked immediately by a healthcare professional.”
Because people with diabetes are at greater risk of foot problems (which can begin with dry, cracked skin) it’s vitally important that they maintain good foot health. If you’re diabetic, start making foot care part of your routine with regular maintenance and checks on your feet. If you have mobility problems and need help, see a professional podiatrist or foot health practitioner who can give personal recommendations and any treatments you need.
Keep an Eye on Your Feet
There are several things you can do regularly to keep your feet in their best condition and avoid any complications. Being vigilant is key; check daily for minor wounds that you might not otherwise have noticed. Diabetes can cause nerve damage, and that can make it more difficult to feel niggling injuries like cuts, blisters, or sores. Because diabetes can also reduce blood flow to the feet, even minor injuries can take longer to heal, and your body’s resistance to infection may be compromised. If a blister or sore doesn’t heal, you could end up with a more serious wound and if not treated, it could escalate to amputation. Diabetes UK has produced a helpful video explaining how to carry out a daily foot health check. They also recommend visiting a foot health practitioner at least once every year for a thorough foot health check.
Tips for Good Diabetic Foot Care
· Keep your feet clean by washing them daily in lukewarm water. Never use hot water, you should bathe feet at the same sort of temperature you would use for a new-born baby’s bath. Be as gentle with your feet as you would a new-born, too. Use a soft sponge or a wash cloth and then dry them carefully, paying attention to between your toes.
· Use a moisturiser daily, especially if your feet are dry. Don’t moisturise between the toes, though, as a build-up could lead to fungal infections. Avoid talc as this can dry skin out too much.
· Keep your nails short and cut them carefully. You may want to ask a professional chiropodist to take care of this for you — we all know it can be awkward to cut toe nails! If you’re doing this yourself, try not to cut them too short, as that can encourage them to in-grow. Cut them straight across then file gently but don’t shape them. Aim to trim your nails or have them trimmed at least every six to eight weeks.
· If you notice any problems, see your doctor or foot health professional. Don’t be tempted to self-treat minor problems like corns or calluses yourself if you have diabetes. Always seek professional help from a doctor or foot health specialist.
· Socks are important for people with diabetes. It’s recommended that you wear them to bed, change them every day, and consider wearing special socks designed for diabetic people. These socks have extra cushioning, no elastic tops, come up higher in the leg and also help to wick moisture away from the skin to avoid excess sweating.
· Check your shoes as well as your feet — sensation in your feet nay be reduced and a sharp stone or object in a shoe can cause a lot of damage when you can’t feel it. Give shoes a good shake before you put them on, just to be on the safe side. Also — make sure that your shoes fit well. Avoid wearing shoes that rub or pinch and could cause injury.
· For the same reason — Never walk barefoot.
· Get regular foot exams. Seeing a podiatrist on a regular basis means that any problems are flagged up and dealt with before they become serious.