An important part of managing your diabetes is taking proper care of your feet. Since diabetes can cause numerous issues such as poor circulation and neuropathy, problems with your feet can have serious complications. Some of the problems that occur may not cause pain and can go undetected unless you do a daily check of your feet. If you have a loss of sensation, you may not realize you have an injury to your foot. The earlier you catch and treat foot issues, such as ulcers or sores, the less likely they are to become bigger problems. Understanding the proper way to check your feet is essential if you are diabetic.
How to Check Your Feet
A diabetic foot care self-exam is simple and something you can incorporate into your daily routine. The ideal time to do an exam is after a bath or shower when your feet are clean. You will also want to do the exam in an area where there is plenty of light, so you can see all areas of each foot.
To begin, sit in a chair and lift your foot over the opposite leg and inspect the bottoms, tops, and sides of each foot. You also want to check between your toes. For those unable to sit and do this comfortably, ask for assistance from a family member or friend. To make it easier to see the bottoms of your feet, consider using a mirror.
You should pay close attention to the following when doing your exam:
- Dry or cracked skin, especially on the heels
- Open sores, wounds, or blisters
- Cuts or scrapes
- Any areas that are red or warm
- Bumps or lumps under the skin
- Calluses or corns
- Foot deformities such as a bunion
- Ingrown or infected toenails
- Changes in the appearance of the feet
To keep track of the overall health of your feet, have a journal close by. You can note any changes in your feet as well as any skin changes that concern you. This makes it easier to share with your podiatrist at your next appointment.
Daily Foot Care Tips
In addition to a daily self-exam, there are other ways to care for your feet. Some tips for diabetic foot care are:
- Wash your feet daily in warm water and always dry between your toes
- Moisturize the bottoms and tops of your feet, but never use lotion between your toes
- Wear socks daily to protect your feet
- Never walk barefoot
- Trim your toenails straight across, and round the edges
- Wear shoes that fit properly and do not cause blisters
When to See a Podiatrist
If you notice any problems while doing a foot care self-exam, contact a podiatrist immediately. Many issues do not get better on their own and can have serious complications if left untreated. Alert your podiatrist of issues such as sudden pain or swelling in the feet or toes, changes in the color or shape of the foot, any ulcers or sores, and any issues with your toenails. Small problems when caught early are easier to treat. The longer you wait for treatment, the higher the risk for complications.
In addition to a daily check of your feet, you should also schedule an annual foot exam with a podiatrist. A podiatrist can monitor the health of your feet, determine if you are at risk for other foot conditions, and create a treatment plan based on your personal needs.
If you are diabetic and have concerns about the health of your feet and the proper way to care for them, contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for a consultation. To schedule an appointment in our Grapevine or Keller office, fill out our convenient contact form, or call us today.