It’s easy to take your feet for granted—right up until the point they start hurting. Unfortunately, for people with diabetes, that may already be too late. Diabetes poisons nerves and chokes circulation in the feet, which means that if you aren’t paying attention even small cuts could become infected ulcers. At that point, you’re looking at emergency wound care, a long recovery, and possibly even amputation.
How do you avoid such a fate? It’s not necessarily difficult, but it does require a little patience and some discipline. Make yourself a diabetic foot care checklist, and stick to it! Here are the essentials:
- Wash and dry your feet every day with lukewarm-to-warm water, then dry them thoroughly.
- Apply a moisturizing lotion or cream to the tops and bottoms of your feet every day.
- Schedule yourself for a foot exam every day at a regular time. This should only take about 5 minutes or so. Look at and feel your feet for any problems, from cuts, bumps, and discoloration to temperature fluctuations and dry skin. Use a hand mirror or recruit a friend if you can’t see your entire foot closely. Problems that persist beyond a few days, or seem to get worse, should be checked by a podiatrist immediately.
- Trim your toenails whenever necessary. It’s important that they aren’t too long or too short, and that you cut straight across rather than rounding the corners. Smooth the edges with an emery board. If you ever need assistance maintaining your toenails, it is always best to see a podiatrist.
- Wear soft, clean, dry socks with no interior seams to irritate skin.
- Wear shoes that fit well, provide good support, and are made from breathable material.
- Change socks and shoes whenever they become dirty or sweaty. Own at least two pairs of everyday shoes so you can switch between them every other day.
- Never go barefoot, even at home.
- Schedule a checkup with Dr. Walters at least once per year, potentially more if you have a history of foot issues. These annual exams are an opportunity for us to provide additional care and to test your feet for complications such as neuropathy or peripheral artery disease.
To schedule your exam or report any current problems with your feet, please call our office in Garfield Ridge, Chicago at (773) 586-0050, or submit an appointment request via our online form.