FOOT CARE FOR
HOW DOES DIABETES
AFFECT YOUR FEET?
In diabetes changes occur that make you more prone to serious foot problems.
Changes take place in the blood vessels in the legs and feet which result
in a less efficient circulation of blood than in a non-diabetic of similar
age. Also damage to nerves occur which may cause a reduction of sensation
in the feet. Because of this lack of feeling you may not be aware of injuries
to the feet, and damage to the skin or underlying tissues may go unnoticed.
Small injuries to the feet even if painless will take longer to heal and
provide an opening for infection which may spread rapidly because of the
poor circulation. It is important therefore to examine your feet regularly
and treat them with great care. Your perception of hot and cold may also
be affected so try to avoid direct heat from fires or hot water bottles,
(remove hot water bottles before getting into bed).
Do not soak your feet, but try to wash them daily or less. Use lukewarm
water, NOT hot water (purchase a bath thermometer and use it), and dry
carefully especially between the toes, but avoid rubbing the skin or forcing
the toes apart (cotton buds may be helpful).
Wear good fitting lace-up shoes that do not pinch the toes.
It is important to check that your shoes are deep enough in the toe box
as well as wide enough. Only wear slippers for short periods, consider
‘trainers’ (sneakers) instead especially during a day when you are likely
to be standing or walking. Never do barefoot. Remember that tight socks
or stockings can be just as damaging as tight shoes. Do not darn or mend
socks as this cause seams. Never use garters which can restrict your circulation.
If your skin is very dry, use a plain moisturising cream, but use
it sparingly, and do not use between the toes. If your skin is often moist
it can help to wipe with surgical spirit especially between the toes (seek
medical advice if there is any splitting between toes before however).
If you must cut your nails yourself; cut them straight across. Do not
cut them short, and do not cut into the corners. Avoid clearing the edges
of your nails with anything other than a soft brush as instruments might
easily injure the skin irreversibly.
If you have painful or troublesome nails, corns, hard skin, or indeed
any foot problem do not try to treat them yourself. NEVER USE CORN PLASTERS
or solvents as these contain acid and are extremely dangerous. For routine
treatment always ensure you consult a Chiropodist privately who is recommended
by your local N.H.S. clinic. Although your feet will be regularly monitored
at the nearest designated Hospital Diabetic clinic this often is only
adequate if you have no lesions.
If you experience pain or throbbing or colour changes or notice discharge
from your toes or any part of your feet or leg, you should seek advice
from your practitioner immediately.
Remember that with diabetes if you have a foot problem, you may not
feel a lot of pain, it is important to inspect your feet at least once
a day to look for possible problems. Correctly fitting footwear and good
chiropody care often means you can avoid serious complications.
A great help to many foot problems can be to use the right insoles. Click
D. Lees D.Pod.M.,
Surgery Address: 37
High Street, Amblecote, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 4DG