Complications from foot ulcers are a leading cause of hospitalization and amputation among people with diabetes. When you have diabetes, foot care is important because you can be at higher risk for foot and wound problems for three reasons:
- The nerves responsible for the skin sensations might be damaged due to non-controlled diabetes. Therefore you may not be able to feel your feet, and may not notice injuries, sores, or high-pressure areas.
- You are more susceptible to poor circulation. Impaired circulation might delay the wound healing process. Wounds are harder to heal and can more easily become infected.
- Infections can develop when blood glucose is not under control. High blood glucose levels can interfere with your body’s natural defense system, increasing the chances of an infection and making the wound harder to heal.
This is why foot wound care and prevention of foot wounds is extremely important for people with diabetes. All people with diabetes should follow a regular foot care plan.
Always discuss any foot care concerns that you may have with your doctor and/or podiatrist, including the care of minor wounds and skin cracks. Treat even small wounds as an emergency if you have diabetes. Here are some tips for caring for your feet:
- Look at and touch your feet every day. Small wounds can develop at the bottom of your feet or between toes without you noticing or feeling them. Ask someone to help you if you cannot inspect your feet by yourself due to another health condition. A handheld mirror might help you observe areas that are hard to reach.
- Do not ignore redness, swelling, non-healing wounds, ingrown toenails, and other foot or wound problems. Bring these problems to the attention of your doctor and/or podiatrist as soon as possible. Early treatment is the best way to prevent further problems.
- Look and feel for any pebbles or other foreign objects in your shoes.
- Keep your feet clean and dry them well especially between your toes.
- Cut or file your toenails with the shape of your toes.
- Keep your skin moisturized with lotion or cream. Apply this after you bathe. Learn about Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. dry skin care products in the Skin Care section.
- Protect your feet at all times. The only time to go without shoes is when you are in bed or bathing.
- Wear socks with a narrower or thin toe seam to relieve pressure on your toes.
- Wear well-fitting and comfortable shoes. Ask advise from your doctor and/or podiatrist on the best shoes for your feet. He or she might recommend that you have one custom made for your specific needs.