If you’re an American living with diabetes, you are far from alone. About 13% of all adults in the United States have diabetes, making it one of the country’s most prevalent chronic medical conditions. Diabetes comes with a long list of uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms, and it can be difficult to keep track of the many ways this serious disease affects various parts of your body.
One area that is often overlooked among people with diabetes is the feet. This lack of attention is largely due to the nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels over an extended period. Poor blood flow can also make it difficult for people with diabetes to feel anything below the ankle, so any injuries to the feet might be more difficult to notice.
1. Add a Highly-Rated Podiatrist to Your Medical Team
Over time, diabetes can lead to poor circulation and nerve damage in the extremities, especially the feet. Any injuries the feet sustain may be slow to heal, leading to infected tissue that may eventually need to be amputated. Since the disease reduces your sensitivity below the ankle, you might not be aware something is wrong until the problem is too serious for an easy fix.
When you’re dealing with diabetes, having a doctor on your team specializing in feet is essential for ensuring your trotters stay in good working order. For example, this board-certified podiatrist in Columbia, MD, has excellent credentials and ratings and even has experience working with diabetic patients.
No matter who is in your area, schedule an appointment to ensure your feet receive the professional attention and care you deserve.
2. Use Moisturizer Daily
Another important facet of diabetic foot care is using a moisturizer every day. If your skin becomes dry or itchy, you’ll risk incurring hard-to-heal damage from cracking or scratching. Having a daily moisturizing ritual will also keep you tuned in to what’s happening below your ankles, and you’ll be more likely to notice right away if anything feels or looks wrong.
Most moisturizers work to soothe dry skin by using a greasy layer such as Vaseline to hold water against the skin’s surface. The type of moisturizer isn’t important, so feel free to choose one that smells nice or makes your skin feel smooth and pleasant. The goal is to find a product that you feel excited about using every day.
Just make sure not to moisturize between your toes since the product could become trapped and eventually spawn a fungal infection.
3. Enhance Your Wardrobe with Diabetic Socks
Diabetic socks can mitigate the effects of nerve damage in the feet by improving blood flow and circulation. They also have moisture-wicking properties, which help the skin stay dry and lower the risk of fungal infections and blisters.
Several diabetic sock options on the market today have padded soles for an added layer of protection against injury. Some socks even come equipped with “smart” technology that can monitor your feet and alert you when they detect an injury or anomaly in the area.
If you’re a fan of socks with fun colors and funky patterns, don’t worry; you won’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. Nowadays, there is a wide array of fashionable diabetic socks that will make your heart happy as well as your feet.
Choose a seamless option in a soft, non-binding fabric that won’t rub uncomfortably against your skin or restrict your circulation.
4. Bathe Your Feet Carefully
Taking care of diabetic feet means washing them every day. Be extra gentle when bathing your feet to avoid injuring the skin. Use only lukewarm water, the temperature you would use on a baby; hot water can lead to blistering and scarring. The nerve endings in your extremities are likely to be muted. So, use a more sensitive area like the inside of your wrist to test the temperature of the water, not your fingers or toes.
When it’s time to dry, use a blotting or patting technique rather than rubbing your feet with a towel. Make sure to dry thoroughly between the toes to prevent the risk of infection.
Don’t Neglect Your Feet
Living with diabetes is hard enough without the increased risk of injury to the feet. Keep those dogs from barking! Follow these four ideas for pampering your feet to reduce the risk of long-term damage and reduced mobility.