If you have diabetes, it is essential that you look after your feet. With these quick and simple tips, you can help prevent problems and reduce your risk of complications in the years to come.
Diabetes is a condition that develops from high blood sugar levels, and can damage the blood vessels and nerves supplying your legs and feet. Where the blood vessels have been damaged, there is a reduction in circulation, and therefore a reduction to the blood getting to your skin, muscles and other tissues. When the nerve supply is damaged, it is called neuropathy, and it can affect the sensory, motor and autonomic nerves. Where there is damage to the sensory nerves, you will start to lose sensation in your feet and are therefore less able to feel pain, temperature and vibration. Damage to the autonomic nerves causes the skin on your feet to produce less sweat, meaning that your skin will be dry and more susceptible to damage. Damage to the motor nerves can affect the muscles in your feet, which may lead to changes in the shape of your feet.
Because of these factors, any injury has the potential to develop into something more serious. If the sensation to your feet is reduced, it is possible that you can damage your feet unknowingly. If this damage goes untreated, it can potentially be serious, leading to ulceration, gangrene or amputation.
Here are our tips to help reduce your risk of developing complications:
- Check your feet daily– look for any damage, like cuts or blisters.
- Go for 6 monthly check ups with your HCPC registered Podiatrist or practice nurse.
- Wear the correct shoes– Choose well-fitting shoes that protect and support your feet and don’t rub or press.
- Wear the correct socks– avoid tight socks or socks that have seams that may rub.
- Never walk barefoot- you may unknowingly damage your feet.
- Wash your feet daily– checking the temperature of the water first, wash your feet everyday with warm water and mild soap. Don’t spend too long soaking as it may make your skin soggy.
- Dry your feet thoroughly, taking special care between your toes.
- Use moisturiser every day– this is best done after you have dried your feet after a bath/shower. Don’t use cream between your toes, it will make it too moist. There are specialist foot creams available for dry skin.
- If you are able to, and you do not have any neuropathy or circulation problems, there is no reason why you can’t cut your own toenails. However, if you have neuropathy or poor circulation, you should see an HCPC registered Podiatrist regularly.
- If you have thick or ingrowing toenails, see an HCPC registered Podiatrist regularly
- If you have hard skin, it is recommended that you do not treat this at home yourself, and instead see an HCPC registered Podiatrist who will remove the skin painlessly and safely.
- Avoid extremes of temperature– check the temperature of your bath water before jumping in, and if you must use a hot water bottle, remove it before you get into bed. This will greatly reduce your chance of developing a burn.
If you are concerned about your feet, you should seek the advice of a Podiatrist or your GP immediately.