How to Perform Daily Foot Inspections
In our previous post, we discussed why diabetic foot care matters. As a quick recap, diabetes causes a host of problems in the body – including reduced blood flow, impaired immune function, and neuropathy (nerve damage).
Those problems lead to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness – and also serious complications in the lower limbs!
Charcot foot and diabetic foot ulcers are two medical issues you truly do not want to develop. In order to lower your risk of these serious problems, you need to follow a diabetic foot care plan.
Now, the core tenets of diabetic foot care are basically to protect your feet and have issues addressed at the earliest possible opportunity. For an otherwise healthy individual, the trigger for addressing a medical condition often comes from the nervous system – usually pain or even the feeling “something just isn’t right.”
In the case of diabetes, nerve damage from excess glucose (sugar) can take away your ability to feel physical sensations. As a result, you might not be able to feel something like a toenail that has become ingrown or—as odd as this may seem to consider—a bone that fractures. Put simply, you cannot rely on pain anymore to clue you in to the fact something is wrong.
That means you need a different way to catch problems at their earliest, most treatable stages, and this is where a daily foot inspection comes into play.
The best starting point for how to perform a daily foot inspection is with the fact we call it “daily” for a reason – it needs to be done every day!
Our patients have the best success with this when they make the inspection part of their daily routine. A great idea that works for many people is to do this at the end of the day, before going to bed. Doing so gives you the opportunity to see if anything has happened during the day that you should be concerned about.
In addition to knowing “when” you are going to check your feet, knowing “where” is also quite important. Given the fact diabetes also impairs your vision—seriously, this disease is bad news for the whole body!—you should inspect your feet in a well-lit area, preferably somewhere you can sit comfortably.
Now, since you may have vision problems related to your diabetes (or otherwise), you need to use your hands. This is beneficial in helping you find textural differences that you might not be able to catch by solely relying on your eyes.
Even if your vision isn’t impaired, there’s a chance you will have difficulty seeing the bottoms of your feet. To rectify this situation, either use a mirror on the end of a long handle or recruit a loved one to assist you.
When checking your feet, keep in mind you need to check all surfaces – and this includes the areas between your toes.
So now that you have the basics of how to perform a daily foot inspection, what are you looking for? Well, a general rule of thumb is “anything out of the ordinary should be checked out at our office,” but more specifically, you are looking for:
- Cuts, scratches, and scrapes. If you discover a wound like any of these, wash the affected area carefully with running water—and just running water!!—and then apply an antibiotic cream (contact our office for a professional recommendation). If you find redness, oozing, or foul-smelling discharge, these are signs of infection and you should seek immediate medical care!
- Skin issues. Dryness can cause callusing and cracks or fissures in your skin. Do not try to remove a callus on your own! Instead, come see us at the earliest possible opportunity. As noted in the previous point, any redness is a potential sign of infection. Blue and black discoloration on the skin is especially concerning – this is like an indication of a circulation issue and you need emergency care.
- Blisters, corns, calluses, warts, and other bumps or growths. Any abnormality found on the feet has the potential to ultimately cause a dangerous infection. A callus that cracks or blister that bursts can open the door to a potential infection. If you find any of these, come in and see us as soon as possible!
- Ingrown or discolored toenails. When checking your feet, make sure to inspect your toenails as well. An ingrown toenail increases infection risk when it digs into the skin. Discolored toenails typically indicate a fungal infection that requires professional treatment.
Performing a daily foot inspection is absolutely essential, but there is more to diabetic foot care! For a comprehensive diabetic foot care plan to keep your lower limbs safe, come see us at Anderson Foot and Ankle. Call us at (801) 269-9939 for more information or to request your appointment.