Each year 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. November is American Diabetes Month, and at Patrick Fettinger, DPM, we know diabetes can be harmful to your feet. Poor circulation and nerve damage—two conditions frequently associated with diabetes—deliver a one, two punch to your podiatric health. Reduced blood flow means injuries, even minor ones like blisters or rashes, which can be much more challenging to heal, increasing the risk for infection and even amputation. Nerve damage decreases sensations like pain, which signal an injury early on when it’s most treatable.
However, the good news is there are many ways you can be proactive in preventing damage to your feet if you have diabetes.
Below are 8 tips to help you take the best care of your feet:
- Examine your feet every day. If you get in the habit of looking over your feet regularly, you’ll quickly be able to spot changes that may signal a potential problem. If you see any cuts, blisters, bruises, growths, rashes, discoloration, or changes in toe position or foot size, contact our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick J. Fettinger, in our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office to get symptoms evaluated.
- Don’t walk barefoot. It will significantly reduce your chances of stepping on a sharp object and getting a cut or puncture wound.
- Keep feet dry. Sitting in damp socks increases the risk of fungal infections. If you tend to perspire excessively, have an extra pair of socks in your desk or bag and change when you notice your feet feel sweaty. Consider using a foot powder or even an antiperspirant on the soles of your feet.
- Practice good podiatric hygiene. Wash your feet with soap and warm (not hot) water daily. Dry feet completely, especially between your toes. Change your socks every day.
- Avoid external heat sources. Neuropathy may make it difficult to perceive heat accurately. Don’t rest your feet directly in front of the fireplace or a space heater. Don’t sleep with an electric blanket.
- Trim nails properly. Cut toenails straight across. Avoid cutting them too short, however, or they are more likely to become ingrown.
- Don’t play foot doctor. If you have a wart, ingrown toenail, or other foot condition, don’t try to treat on your own with medicated products or with “bathroom surgery.” It can cause injury and infection.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a nutritious diet, avoiding excess weight gain, and exercising regularly will positively impact managing your diabetes.
If you have additional questions or concerns about diabetes and your feet, don’t hesitate to contact us.