Treat your feet well if you have diabetes

August 28, 2015 Providence Health Team

If you have diabetes, it’s important to take care of your feet. Diabetes can cause nerve damage in your feet, making it hard for you to feel sensation from a wound or injury. When left untreated, a wound or injury can lead to infection and ultimately more serious complications.

Fortunately, most complications are preventable with proper foot care. Here are some ways to help treat your feet well:

  1. Never go barefoot or wear open-toed shoes when outside.
    Protect your feet from a wound or injury by never going barefoot or wearing open-toed shoes, like sandals, when outside. Socks and shoes can help prevent minor cuts or injury to your feet. Make sure your shoes fit your feet well and allow your toes to move.
  2. Inspect your feet daily.
    You might not be able to feel a wound or injury so it’s important to use your sight to make sure your feet are healthy. Check your toes and feet for any cuts, sores, bruises, bumps or infections.
  3. Wash and moisturize your feet daily.
    Nerves that control oil and moisture in your feet may no longer work, causing your feet to become very dry and skin to peel and crack. Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap, but don’t soak your feet for long periods of time (this can further dry out your feet).

    After washing, dry your feet carefully with a soft towel especially between your toes. To prevent dry, cracked skin, moisturize your feet (except for the skin between the toes) with petroleum jelly, lotion containing lanolin, or cold cream.
  4. File away dead skin and get your calluses trimmed by your health care provider.
    People with diabetes get calluses more often because there are high pressure areas under their feet. Calluses can get very thick and turn into open sores if not trimmed. Let your health care provider cut your calluses to prevent open sores that may go unnoticed. Using a pumice stone daily on wet skin can prevent calluses from getting thicker.
  5. Cut your toenails straight across.
    Remember not to leave any sharp corners that could cut the other toes. Round out the edges with an emery board. Avoid cutting the sides of your toenails: these may cause ingrown nails.

If you have diabetes and find a cut in your skin or develop a callus or ingrown toenail, contact your health care provider to avoid further injury or infection.

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