They carry you everywhere. You dress them with snug slippers, comfy sneakers and strappy sandals. By the time you're 50, they will have carried you about 75,000 miles. Your feet work hard! And if you have diabetes, you need to work hard to care for them. Pay special attention to your feet. Any small bump, bruise or scratch can escalate into a more serious problem.
Why do I have to worry about my feet?
People with diabetes often have problems with their feet. These issues stem from nerve damage and blood flow problems.
Nerve damage. Chronic high blood sugar can cause nerve damage in your feet. This blood sugar-related nerve damage is called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause many symptoms, including:
- Pins and needles sensation
- Severe pain
- Loss of feeling in the hands and legs, which contributes to foot problems
If you have nerve damage, you may walk around with a cut or injury and not even notice. A small scrape on your foot can lead to a foot ulcer (open sore). If an ulcer gets infected and is not treated, it may lead to loss of your foot.
Poor blood flow. People with diabetes often have reduced circulation. This makes it hard for your foot to get the blood flow it needs to fight infections and heal.
How can I prevent foot problems?
Take these four steps to prevent issues with your feet:
1. Control your blood sugar. The best way to lower your risk of diabetes-related complications is to manage your diabetes well. Keep your blood sugar levels in check by following your diabetes treatment plan.
2. See your doctor. A podiatrist (foot care doctor) should be part of your diabetes care team. See your podiatrist at least once a year, or as often as your doctor suggests. Your podiatrist will:
- Check your feet.
- Trim your nails.
- Care for your calluses and corns. (Never try to remove calluses or corns on your own. This can lead to open sores and infection.)
Let your doctor know about any changes in how your feet look or feel. A persistent blister or bump, even if it's small, may lead to a bigger problem.
Take off your shoes and socks when you visit your doctor buy generic ED pills for a check-up. This lets your doctor check to make sure your feet are healthy.
3. Care for your feet. Feet need to be pampered and protected to stay healthy. Tips to keep feet healthy include:
- Wash your feet daily with warm soap and water. Dry them thoroughly and then apply lotion. Do not put lotion between your toes.
- Trim your toenails often.
- Check your feet each day. Use a mirror to see the bottoms of your feet. Look for red spots, cuts, blisters, bruises, sores or other changes. If you cannot check your own feet, ask someone to help you.
- Treat wounds and cover them with a bandage right away. See your doctor if the cut doesn't heal.
- See your doctor right away if you have an ulcer. This may lead to infection.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well. Make sure the insides of your shoes are smooth and nothing rubs against your feet.
- Always wear socks with your shoes. Choose ones that are soft, thick and don't have seams.
- Protect your feet from the heat. Never put your feet in hot water or use a heating pad. Nerve damage may hinder your ability to feel temperature. Warm up cold feet by wearing socks.
- Do not walk around barefoot. Always wear shoes on pavement and sand. Keep feet covered with shoes and socks, even when you're indoors.
4. Improve blood flow. Ways to increase circulation to your feet include:
- Get active! Exercise increases circulation. Build up to 30 minutes of physical activity a day, most days of the week. Walking, swimming and cycling are usually feet-friendly options. Ask your doctor first to recommend a safe activity level.
- Keep your feet elevated whenever you sit for long periods of time.
- Wiggle your toes and rotate your ankles for five minutes, two to three times a day. This stimulates blood flow.
- Don't cross your legs.
- Don't wear socks that are tight around your calves. If they're leaving a mark on your leg, they're too tight.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to your feet.
- Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control.