A chief concern in diabetes management is controlling blood sugar, as this is the basis of the condition. Day-to-day blood sugar control can mean careful attention to diet and possibly drug interventions, such as supplemental insulin; these practices are often what spring to mind when we think of diabetes management. But another important component in diabetes self-care is your feet. Diabetes can cause damage to the body’s nervous system, a condition called ‘diabetic neuropathy,’ which can cause pain or numbness in the legs and feet, among other symptoms. This potential loss of sensation in the feet of a diabetes patient means that problems can go unnoticed, leaving the feet vulnerable to damage or infection.
In pursuit of better foot health for patients with diabetes, we’re beginning this short series called ‘Treat Your Feet.’ Discover our four pillars of proper diabetes foot care below, and stay tuned for in-depth coverage and tips in future weeks.
Keeping feet clean can slow the spread of infection. However, because sensation may be dulled, water that’s too hot may go unnoticed and cause burns. Moreover, trapped moisture can allow bacteria or fungus to grow, and skin that gets overly dry may crack, which can also lead to problem wounds or infections. Thus, proper foot hygiene in diabetes includes daily washing, drying, and a protective layer of lotion to keep skin healthy.
Footwear for patients with diabetes needs to be supportive in specific ways. From the amount of coverage to the type of fit, not all shoes and socks are created equal. Know what’s recommended, how to find the right fit, and who to turn to for assurance that you’re outfitting your feet in the best equipment possible for you.
Increasing blood flow to your extremities can be good for your feet, but sometimes numbness or tingling caused by the nerve damage can be discouraging. Just getting up periodically throughout the day can make a difference, although building up to longer exercise sessions (slowly and safely, with your doctor’s approval) can have even more positive benefits.
The loss of protective sensation and circulation that can come with diabetes and related neuropathy increases a patient’s risk for injury, and even permanent deformity. Wounds that fail to heal (known as ‘diabetic ulcers’) can grow worse without care, and in some instances the damage may require amputation. Daily visual inspections can help you spot and treat any damage early. Moreover, periodic screening can help you test your level of sensation and keep track of any changes.
Above all, proper foot maintenance should go hand in hand with overall diabetes management. Keeping your condition in check and well monitored can help lessen symptoms, reduce risk, and prevent injury, for your feet as well as your entire body. Make the four pillars of diabetes foot care part of your regular regimen to take a strong step toward better health.
No matter what your health challenge may be, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click below to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.