Diabetic Foot Care
Charcot foot and diabetic foot ulcers are two examples of very serious medical problems that can develop on account of diabetes. The best way to reduce the risk of such issues is to have a diabetic foot care plan in place. This is comprised of various pillars, but one of the most valuable is performing a diabetic foot self-exam every day.
Why Diabetic Foot Care is Essential
Little problems can escalate into severe issues—the aforementioned Charcot foot and ulcers—but if you are able to catch them early, you can derail their progress. When neuropathy (nerve damage) is present and you are unable to feel things like a tiny cut or scrape. If you let it go untreated, an infection can set in, which could ultimately lead to an emergency room visit or an amputation.
So if you are unable to feel issues when they develop, how can you take care of them at early, less-dangerous stages? Well, this is where your diabetic foot care plan comes into play.
Diabetes affects your life in a multitude of ways, but not everyone considers the intertwining relationship of diabetes and your feet. Foot health is often an indication of overall health, but issues that develop in your feet play a role in your overall health, too. As we look at tips for diabetic foot care, there are four overall areas to note: inspection, protection, lifestyle choices, and professional assistance.
Due to the fact that your feet spend so much time covered—coupled with the neuropathy (nerve damage) that can accompany diabetes—it is entirely possible for you to be unaware of a developing condition. In time, minor conditions become major complications. We would rather see you avoid the potential for danger, so carefully inspect your feet daily for:
- Cuts, scratches, and scrapes. When you discover a wound, wash the affected area carefully and apply an antibiotic cream recommended by our office. If there is redness, oozing, or foul-smelling discharge, call us as soon as possible.
- Skin issues. Keep your feet from becoming too dry, which can ultimately lead to fissures and cracking. Itching and redness are possible signs of infection and need to be treated right away. Blue or black coloration are indications of circulation issues and you must seek emergency care immediately.
- Blisters, corns, calluses, warts, and other growths. Any abnormality that you note on your feet has the potential for leading to a dangerous infection. A blister that bursts or callus that cracks can open the door for a microorganism to enter your body.
- Ingrown or discolored toenails. Ingrown nails will dig into your skin and increase the risk of infection. Discolored nails are a sign of fungal infection and need professional treatment.
Some areas of protecting your feet may seem more obvious than others, but they are all essential components for keeping you safe and healthy.
- Cleanliness. Protect yourself from the threat of infection by washing your feet daily. Use a mild soap and warm water. Avoid hot water, since neuropathy may prevent you from realizing when you are burning your skin. Afterwards, be sure to dry your feet thoroughly.
- Diabetic shoe choices. Make sure that your shoes fit comfortably, but are not so loose that your feet slide around inside and pose the risk of blisters. You should be able to wiggle your toes, yet still have your heel supported and cradled. Our office can assist you to find footwear that works best for you.
- Nail care. Keep your toenails short and straight. Instead of doing this yourself, schedule an appointment and have it done at our office for optimal safety.
- Skin care. Excessive dryness can lead to cracks and fissures that enable microorganisms to enter your body. After cleaning your feet, apply lotion to the heels, tops, and bottoms of your feet. Avoid the areas between your toes as this can create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
Whether you have diabetes or not, smoking is simply a poor choice for your physical health. When you do live with this disease, though, it becomes an even bigger detriment to your body. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, which is less than ideal for someone who already has circulation issues due to diabetes.
Not all lifestyle choices entail “do not,” and a prime example is exercise. You can actually help fight some of the problems that accompany diabetes with physical activity. Low-impact exercises, like walking and swimming, are great ways to promote better circulation and lose weight, but without putting excessive pressure on your feet. Let us help you create an exercise plan!
In addition to the steps you take yourself, an important component of diabetic foot care is setting up regular appointments with our office. By coming in every 2 or 3 months, we can catch issues before they become serious. Also, this enables you to ask questions and see if there is anything else you should be doing to manage your condition.
Contact Anderson Foot & Ankle Clinic today to set up a diabetic foot care plan. Call us at (801) 269-9939 or use our online form to request an appointment at our Salt Lake City office.