If you ask your local podiatrist (a foot and ankle doctor) about risk factors for foot problems, the odds are good he or she will rank diabetes near the top. You’re probably used to thinking of diabetes as a problem with blood sugar. But 70% of people with diabetes develop neuropathy, and that nerve damage in the feet can lead to big problems. It’s very important people with diabetes exercise great care when it comes to their feet, as even small problems can lead to gangrene — even amputation — if improperly handled. Here are five diabetic foot care dos and don’ts foot and ankle doctors wish everyone knew:
- DO: Wash and Inspect Your Feet Daily
It’s important that you take the time to clean and inspect your feet once or twice a day, looking out for any cuts, lesions, ingrown toenails or signs of infection. If you aren’t flexible enough to easily reach your feet, ask a family member or caretaker for help.
- DON’T: Try to Treat Foot Problems On Your Own
If you do spot any of those problems, you should seek treatment from a podiatrist as soon as possible. While most people can self-treat for a few days to see if their symptoms diminish, that’s a much bigger risk if you have diabetes.
- DO: Moisturize With a Doctor-Recommended Lotion
Keeping your feet moisturized will prevent cracks or fissures in the skin, both of which can leave the feet vulnerable to infection. Use a lotion created for diabetic foot care (or one recommended by your doctor) once a day. Don’t put lotion between yours toes, as excess moisture there can make it easier for bacteria and fungus to grow.
- DON’T: Soak Your Feet in Hot Water
While you do want to wash and moisturize your feet, you don’t want to soak them. Water breaks down the skin on the feet and makes it easier to get infections — that’s why it’s easy to get plantar warts or athlete’s foot from walking barefoot a pool or in gym showers.
- DO: See Your Foot and Ankle Doctor for Checkups
Even if you don’t see any problems with your feet, you’ll want to set up yearly appointments with your podiatrist. This will help to head off any problems before they become serious.
Do you have any other tips to share on diabetic foot care? Join the discussion in the comments.