Diseases of the arteries decrease the amount of blood and nourishment to your feet and legs. Diabetes not only decreases your ability to feel pain and distinguish between hot and cold in your feet, it also decreases the ability of your body to heal itself. Arterial disease often accompanies diabetes. The use of tobacco causes arteries to constrict the heart and supply to the feet and legs.
You can injure your feet without knowing it. Your body is not able to heal itself or fight infection as well as it should. Cutting your foot accidentally with a razor blade or nail clippers, stepping on a sharp object or a burning cigarette can easily lead to infection, gangrene and amputation.
The following suggestions will be helpful in preventing problems:
- Do not use tobacco of any type. Remember the life of your feet and legs are at stake.
- Do not take a bath or soak your feet until you have tested the temperature of the water with a thermometer. The water should be tepid, from 80°F to 93°F. If you do not have a thermometer, ask someone who is not a diabetic to test the water temperature for you with his or her hand.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water. Dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- If your feet tend to be dry or scaly, rub them gently with moisturizing cream or lotion as often as necessary to keep your skin soft and free from scales and dryness.
- If toes overlap or are close together, separate them with lamb’s wool. DO NOT USE COTTON.
- If you are over 60 years of age, rest at intervals during the day with your shoes off and elevate your feet to a position no higher than your hips.
- Do not walk without shoes, and do not wear house slippers or bedroom slippers when you should wear shoes.
- Wear loose shoes or soft leather that fits properly and conforms to the shape of your feet. Wear fleece lined shoes or warm socks in the winter.
- Socks or stockings should be loose and seamless. They should be changed for a clean pair on a daily basis.
- Wear new shoes one-half hour only on the first day and increase wearing time by one-half hour per day after that.
- Do not put your shoes on until you have inspected them on the inside for wrinkles in the lining or sharp nails coming through the soles.Examine your feet when you remove your shoes for possible areas of irritation or injury.
- Do not use electric heating pads or hot water bottles. Use loose, warm bed socks instead.
- Do not wear circular garters.
- Do not sit with your knees crossed. If you must cross your legs, cross them at the ankles.
- Avoid strong, irritating antiseptics such as iodine.
- Do not cut your corns and calluses and do not use commercial corn and callus remover or medicated corn and callus plasters.
- If your feet perspire, wear cotton socks and dust foot powder in your socks to minimize irritation to your feet.
- Consult your podiatrist or family physician if you notice pain and redness, swelling, blistering, abrasions of the skin, pain, ingrown nails, corn, calluses, or other irregularities.
- Do not miss your regular progress check up with your podiatrist and your family physician or endocrinologist.
PREPARED BY: Steven B. Geduldig, D.P.M.