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Foot care

As a person with diabetes, it is important for you to care for your feet properly every day.

If you have nerve damage, known as neuropathy, you may not feel pain if you injure your feet.

Because of this an infection can develop without warning. Decreased blood circulation slows healing. This can result in foot ulcers, which can eventually lead to amputation of the feet and or legs.

Prevent foot injuries by wearing shoes that fit well and have good support. Don't walk barefoot. Check your shoes before putting them on for small pebbles, worn areas, or rough spots. Avoid sandals, pointed toes, high heels and plastic shoes. Always wear socks in your shoes. Socks are better if they do not have seams or mended areas.

It is important to check your feet every evening for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, or infected toenails. If you have any of these problems and they do not heal within 24 hours, it is important to contact your healthcare provider. If you have trouble seeing the bottom of your feet, try using a mirror.

Before bathing or showering, test the water to make sure it is not too hot by using a thermometer or your elbow. If you use a thermometer, between 90 and 95 degree Fahrenheit - or between 32 and 35 degrees Celsius - is safe. Water that is too hot can damage the skin. Do not soak your feet as they can become dry and cracked causing infection.

Be sure to dry your feet well, using a patting rather than a rubbing motion. Be careful to dry between your toes and use talcum powder or cornstarch to keep the skin between your toes dry. Apply lotion to the top and bottom of your feet to keep them soft. Do not apply lotion between the toes as this can cause the area to become too moist.

Thick or hardened skin on the toes and bottom of the feet, called corns and calluses, can appear from skin rubbing against bony areas of the foot. If you have corns or calluses it is important to talk with your doctor about how to remove them. Do not use corn plasters, corn and callus removers, or blades as these may lead to infections.

Trim your toenails straight across once a week.

Smooth, sharp edges with an emery board or nail file. Contact your doctor if they become thick or yellowed, or begin to curve and grow into the skin.

Avoid using heating pads, hot water bottles or campfires to warm your feet, and carefully check your feet during cold temperatures for frostbite.

Keeping your blood glucose levels in your target range through healthy eating and daily exercise can prevent or decrease nerve damage caused by diabetes.

Daily foot care, comfortable shoes and having your health care provider examine your feet at least once a year can help minimize serious long term damage caused by diabetic neuropathy.

Last modified: 2012-03-06