People with diabetes may be aware that they need to take extra care with their feet, but why is it so important?
A high blood sugar level causes damage to nerves and leads to poor circulation, so it can result in loss of feeling in the feet. This lack of feeling means that something that is harmless in most people such as a small cut or scrape can go overlooked, leading to potentially serious foot problems.
So how can you look after your feet and prevent this from happening? Firstly, check your feet regularly for cuts, sores, redness, cracked skin, blisters or bruises, and go to your GP or Foot Health Professional immediately if you find anything. If you can’t check them yourself, use a mirror or ask someone to help.
Secondly, it’s important to keep your feet clean, so wash them everyday in warm water and mild soap. Avoid soaking your feet, because this can cause them to dry out even more which can lead to cracked skin. Make sure you dry them thoroughly after, as the moisture could cause fungus to develop.
TIP: Never check water temperature with your feet, as the nerve damage will make it hard to gauge the real temperature, and you could unknowingly scald your feet, which in turn can lead to skin damage and infection. Always use your elbow to check the temperature.
If you have dry or rough skin on your feet, use a lotion to moisturise them (we highly recommend Tropic Skincare Repairing Foot Remedy) but don’t moisturise between the toes.
Make sure you wear shoes that fit properly (length and width), ideally with a way to adjust them such as velcro or laces, so they don’t rub on your feet. Avoid socks with seams or tight elastic that could cause friction or pressure. Try to avoid being barefoot, wear slippers when you’re indoors to protect your feet.
We also recommend that you regularly see a Foot Health Professional who can check your feet, safely treat any ailments, and give you expert advice on foot care.
Lastly, it’s important to reemphasize that you should go to see a GP or Foot Health Professional immediately if you notice anything unusual or any changes in your feet – such as loss of hair, changes to your toenails, skin colour or any new sensations. It may be nothing but it’s simply not worth the risk!