Foot Care for Diabetics

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Health

As more and more of the population struggles with their weight, it's not surprising that the incidence of diabetes is on the rise. With better medical testing, more and more cases of diabetes are being diagnosed.

If you, or someone you love, have been diagnosed with diabetes, there are several things you should know about living with the disease.

Two of the most significant side effects of diabetes are nerve damage and poor blood flow. Nerve damage results when the nerve cells' normal functioning has been disrupted by too much sugar in the blood. This changes the structure and behavior of the cells, causing them to respond poorly. Diabetics often lose sensation in their feet, making them prone to cuts and puncture wounds that they cannot feel. Left untreated, these cuts and puncture wounds can become infected and dangerous. The loss of sensation in any of the extremities is termed diabetic neuropathy.

The second most significant side effect of diabetes is poor blood flow. This is termed peripheral vascular disease, and results in poor healing of cuts and wounds.

With these two significant side effects, it is very important that diabetics have their feet checked twice a day for any cuts, wounds, or sores. Feet should be cleaned daily and dried fully. Diabetics should wear shoes or house slippers most of the day, even when at home, as this will decrease the likelihood of them stepping on a sharp object and being injured.

Proper foot care is very important for diabetics, as wounds to the feet will take much longer to heal, since the feet are the farthest away from the heart. The poor blood circulation common to this disease makes it less likely that wounds in the lower half of the body will heal quickly, if at all. Therefore, it is very important to prevent them in the first place.

Here are a few more recommendations for foot care for diabetics:

Keep your feet clean by washing them daily. Dry them thoroughly, and be sure to check for cuts, wounds, or calluses each day.

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin well hydrated and strong. Use lotion to repair dry skin on the feet or heels.

Monitor water temperature while bathing, as diabetics may not feel hot water in time and may be scalded.

As mentioned, always wear shoes or slippers, to protect feet from injury. Get in the habit of running your hand on the inside of your footwear, before wearing, to make sure there are no nails or sharp items protruding into the foot bed.

Finally, be sure to be properly fitted for your shoes. Shoes that are too tight can cause ongoing foot problems.

Although living with diabetes is not easy, diabetes can be managed. One place to start is by using these tips to keep your feet in good shape and healthy.