03/09/2021 0 Comments
Caring for the Diabetic Foot. Advice from a Podiatrist
Based on screenings by the National Screening Service for Retinopathy, about 1000 people in Ireland are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every month. This is a startling statistic.
A diabetes diagnosis inevitability brings about lifestyle change, not least of which is related to a person’s feet. The high blood glucose levels of a person with diabetes mean they are particularly susceptible to infection and injury. Long term high blood glucose levels can lead to a person losing feeling in their toes and feet, meaning infections can linger without being detected. This coupled with poor overall circulation, can lead to permanent nerve damage and severe infections. With this in mind, a diabetes patient needs to be conscious of their feet.
The first place to start is to organise regular chiropodist visits, to access your foot health but everyday care is equally important.
In this blog, our podiatrist outlines the steps every diabetic patient should follow to ensure good foot health.
Caring For the Diabetic Foot
Every day good foot health is essential for individuals managing diabetes. As most people won’t suffer any foot problems when they’re first diagnosed, they may be likely to fall into complicacy. Forming good habits early is essential for continuing foot health. Any podiatrist will recommend that, at a bare minimum, you should visit a podiatry clinic at least once every year, and inspect your feet for any signs of infections.
Some of the other straightforward practices that a diabetic patient should take up include
- Wearing Loose-Fitting Shoes
Shoes that squeeze the toes like high heels or thin-soled shoes may lead to ulcerations. These types of shoes can also be a contributing factor to fungal infections, ingrown nails and skin problems.
Generally speaking, you should wear appropriate footwear at all times. Walking shoes – with a supportive heel – should be worn when walking. Running shoes should be worn while running, etc. Dress shoes should only ever be worn for a few hours at a time. Also, an individual with diabetes should never walk around barefoot.
Everyday Foot Examinations
As stated, it’s important to conduct daily foot examinations. This foot examination should be done every morning. We recommend using a mirror to make sure you can see every part of the foot. During this inspection, you should be looking for cuts, scrapes and signs of infection. Signs of infection can include a higher than normal skin temperature, swelling and red areas on the foot. Pain and foot tenderness are also tell-tale infection signs. If you suspect an infection, schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
Maintaining Good Foot Hygiene
Like washing your hands, you should also wash your feet once or twice a day. However, we don’t recommend soaking your feet. Soaking feet removes vital oils and can dry out your feet leading to cracking and possible infections. To avoid drying out your skin, a diabetic patient should consider using a moisturiser to keep skin soft, moisturised and healthy.
Individuals who have particularly sweaty feet should also consider using a foot powder to absorb excessive sweat.
Keeping toenails at a manageable length is also essential to long-term foot health. Always check with a podiatrist before cutting your toenails to ensure there’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing this as part of your home care routine.
Nails shouldn’t be cut too short, and they should be cut evenly. Sharp nail edges should be filed down with an emery board. Particularly thick nails or ingrown nails should only be dealt with by a chiropodist.
Following the above advice daily should keep your feet healthy for longer. However, there is no substitute for regular podiatry check-ups, so please don’t hesitate to book an appointment in our Mayo podiatry clinic. For more information on this topic, visit our diabetic foot health page or get in contact with us directly.