Diabetics can be at serious risk with their feet if they are not looked after and inspected regularly.
This is because diabetes affects the nerve endings particularly in extremities such as the feet causing a loss of sensation in the area.
Essentially this means that they will be unable to feel any cracks, blisters or wounds that develop which may lead to more serious infections occurring, such as gangrene and ulcers.
Listed below are 6 diabetic foot care tips that you should know to reduce the risk of complications occurring:
1) Choosing Socks
For all intents and purposes these look like regular ordinary socks but diabetic socks are specifically designed to prevent moisture and the buildup of microorganisms that can lead to infections.
They are likely to be more comfortable as the materials used will be a combination of synthetic and natural fibers such as nylon, cotton and elasticated fibers which will provide cushioning as well as keeping the foot dry and cool. They are also likely to be seamless and crinkle proof so as not to cause blisters.
The neck of the sock will be wider and less elasticated so as not to restrict blood circulation to the foot and toes which is also good for people suffering with oedema.
The main factors in choosing a diabetic sock will be the comfort and protection. They should fit comfortably and not be too tight in the toe-box area or be tight to put on and take off around the heel and ankle. It is also a good idea to wear white socks as opposed to colored socks because blood and plasma leakage will be easier to detect.
2) Treating Fungal Nails
Diabetics are at more risk of contracting a mycotic infection (onychomycosis) of the nails which is a fungal infection characterized by discolored, thickened and / or split toenails which need to be treated generally with topical over-the-counter medications. They are more at risk from these kind of infections because the reduced circulation in the foot leads to a reduced immune response to infections.
3) Athletes Foot
It is equally important to prevent the foot from becoming infected with athlete's foot, medically known as tinea pedis. Use a separate foot towel just for the feet and relieve any symptoms of itching and burning with an over-the-counter medication in powder, cream or spray form. Always seek advice from your doctor or podiatrist if symptoms persist as a gain the condition can deteriorate into something more serious.
4) Foot Creams
It is important for diabetics to regularly use a foot cream after bathing the foot. Make sure the web spaces between the toes are clean and dry to avoid and athletes foot infection, although it is not recommended to put the cream between the toes because it may encourage a fungal infection to take hold especially if the feet are not washed every day .
Patients also suffered generally with dry skin on the feet due to the damaged nerves causing problems with the sweat glands. It is therefore a good idea to use a foot cream that has a high urea content as this will replenish the skin and allow it to expand and contract if there is any swilling without splitting. Natural aromatherapy type oils can also be used.
5) Choosing Shoes
Shoes are also a consideration has again like socks that need to be specifically fitted with a wider and higher toe box area with removable insoles that can be replaced with of over the counter orthotics or a custom orthotic from your podiatrist. Again this is to reduce the risk of pressure areas forming on the foot and causing calls and blisters.
If you are suffering with excessive callous best way is to have this removed professionally by your podiatrist. If it is only a minor buildup you could use pumice stone or gentle foot file to smooth the hardened layers of skin, but do this when the foot is dry.
6) Get A Foot Assessment / Examination
Visit your doctor or chiropodist / podiatrist and get a full diabetic foot assessment. This will involve taking your pulses with a Doppler machine, checking for neuropathy (sensation) using tip therm, tuning fork and / or monofilament test and possibly an ankle brachial blood pressure test. These will help your physician to assess the level of your risk from diabetes and offer a course of action.
Remember the best way to manage your diabetic foot is to check them over daily and catch any problems early. Diabetes does not have to mean stopping the things you love to do, it just means being more aware of the condition, especially when it comes to your feet!