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Put your best foot forward with a daily diabetic foot check

Put your best foot forward with a daily diabetic foot check

If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels can help you keep your sweet feet healthy. Still, even with careful monitoring, diabetes can cause circulation issues and damage nerves in your feet. Poor circulation means even small blisters or cuts can be slow to heal. When you add in diabetes-related nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy, it’s easy to get a cut, blister or ingrown toenail without noticing. This opens you up to difficult-to-treat infections and wounds. A daily diabetic foot check helps prevent foot problems and detect issues early before they slow you down.

The eyes are the window to the soles

A daily visual check of the tops, sides and bottoms of your feet is the best way to stop minor skin issues from becoming major health concerns. Visually inspect your feet every day for:

  • Blisters
  • Calluses
  • Changes in foot shape
  • Cracks in the toenails or skin
  • Cuts
  • Excessive dryness
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Red or irritated areas
  • Scrapes
  • Sores or ulcers
  • Swelling
  • Unusually warm areas

Make sure the lighting is bright enough to show your feet in all their glory. A mirror or a friend can help you get eyes on hard-to-see areas. If a blister, sore or another open area doesn’t start to heal after a few days, call your doctor and let them know.

In addition to daily checks, people with diabetes need an annual diabetic foot exam to help detect harder-to-see issues. During the exam, your provider will check your reflexes and sensation. They may also order Imaging tests to see if diabetes is affecting the blood flow, bones, muscles or soft tissue in your feet.

Show your feet some love

Before or after your daily diabetic foot check, follow these steps to show your feet some love:

  1. Wash your feet with warm water and mild soap.
  2. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes, to help prevent fungal infections.
  3. Moisturize the top, sides and bottoms of your feet, avoiding the areas between your toes.
  4. When needed, trim your toenails straight across and not too short.

If reaching your feet is challenging, call in a favor from a friend or talk with the specialists at East Jefferson General Hospital Diabetes Management Center about adaptive equipment to make things easier, like long-handled nail clippers or lotion applicators.

Exercising is another excellent way to show your feet some love. Because diabetes can reduce blood flow to the feet, try biking, swimming or walking to help improve circulation. You can also make a big difference by taking time throughout the day to move your feet up and down at the ankles and in circles. Wiggle your toes for a few minutes, too.

Kick back, relax and keep your shoes on

Unless you’re in bed, wear shoes and socks at all times to protect your feet from accidental injuries. Always check the inside of your shoes and slippers for small rocks or other objects that could harm your feet before putting them on.

Choose shoes with a wide toe box that fit securely but not too tightly. If shoes slide, they could rub against your skin and cause damage. Similarly, if they’re too tight, they could cause pressure sores. An East Jefferson General Hospital diabetes specialist can let you know if your insurance will cover the cost of diabetic shoes or custom molded inserts to help protect your feet.

Treat yourself: Foot care is self-care

Pamper yourself and keep your feet healthy by:

  • Getting a pedicure
  • Having a foot massage
  • Putting your feet up to boost circulation during the big game
  • Soaking your feet in warm water and Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes—remember to dry your feet well afterward
  • Wearing festive, brightly colored diabetic socks

Avoid putting heating pads, hot water bottles or ice on your feet or toes. Nerve damage can make it difficult to tell when something is too hot or cold, making it easy to damage the skin.

If you have a cut, blister or ulcer on your foot that isn’t healing, call 504.503.5609 to schedule an appointment at East Jefferson General Hospital’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center.