Why do I need foot care?
Over time poorly managed blood sugars can damage the nerves and blood vessels in your feet. This damage can lead to decreased feeling in your feet, which may lead to you not noticing injuries on your feet. If these injuries are left untreated they can become infected. The most serious condition is called gangrene and may result in the amputation of your foot.
It is recommended that everyone with diabetes have a daily foot care routine. All people with diabetes should learn how to care for their feet. If you are unable to inspect your own feet daily, it is strongly encouraged that others regularly do checks on your feet such as family or a healthcare professional.
You should have foot exam performed by a healthcare professional every year. A basic foot exam includes a physical examination of your feet for injury as well as corns or calluses. Your physician may also test for nerve damage using a tool called a monofilament. It is a small nylon thread that is used to test the sensation in your feet. Seek medical and foot care specialist care immediately if your feet are painful, red, swollen and/or warm.
Caring for Your Feet
- Wear shoes that protect your feet, provide support, are comfortable, and are in good condition.
- Wash your feet with a mild soap and warm water.
- Keep your feet dry and clean.
- Check your feet and the spaces between your toes daily for blisters, cracks, cuts, or ingrown toenails. Make sure you check the bottom of your feet as well!
- Clean all scrapes and cuts with warm water and mild soap. Then, cover these injuries with a dry bandage. See your doctor if you notice it is not healing after a few days.
- Change your socks daily. Wear clean, white, cotton or wool socks that allow your feet to breathe, and choose socks that are not too tight. The white color will allow you to easily detect any injuries or dirt.
- Try not to go barefoot, even when indoors.
- Maintain target blood sugar levels.
Health Care Professionals Involved in Foot Care
There may be many different healthcare professionals that help you with your foot care needs in a team approach. Foot care management will involve the health care professional in the following areas: diabetes management education, pressure relief, infection treatment, assessment of lower extremity circulation and local wound care.
Depending on your foot care concerns, this may involve the following health care professionals:
- Physicians: can provide advice on management of diabetes. Some physicians are also specialists in foot care.
- Diabetes Educators: Not only can diabetes educators provide recommendations on diabetes management, but also on the management of diabetic complications such as foot care.
- Nurses: Some nurses have received specialized training on foot health.
- Podiatrist or Chiropodist: is a specialist in the treatment and management of foot dysfunctions, disorders, and diseases.
- Orthotists/Prosthetists: are professionals who specialize in both orthotics and prosthetic equipment.
- Pedorthists: are health care professionals who specialize in footwear and footwear alterations. Pedorthists also specialize in orthotics.