Diabetes touches every area of your body, including your lower limbs. Elevated sugar levels damage your blood vessels, which in turn hurts the organs, nerves, and other tissues throughout your body. Your feet are one of the first places to feel the effect, and remain at high risk for sustaining serious complications as result.
A diabetic foot involves some degree of nerve damage and an increased risk of infection, so you need to take extra precautions to protect and clean your feet. Inspect your feet every day, and seek care as soon as possible if you do get a foot injury. A yearly check-up with your podiatrist here at Martin Foot and Ankle helps ensure you stay on track with your basic foot health, as well as look for any issues that you may not have noticed.
Most people can prevent a serious foot problem by following some simple steps:
- Be more active. Exercise regularly to help improve blood flow to your lower limbs.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles several times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time.
- Protect your feet from extreme hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don't put your feet in hot water without testing it first. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. It’s easy to burn your feet without realizing it.
- Wear shoes with sufficient padding and support.
- Don’t walk around barefoot. Use shoes or slippers to act as protection between you and objects that could cut or irritate your feet and lower limbs.
- Don’t smoke or consume too much alcohol. That can have a negative effect on your circulation that your body can’t afford.
Make sure you gently wash and dry your feet every day:
- Use warm - not hot - water to wash.
- Use a mild soap and pat the feet dry, rather than rubbing.
- Take the opportunity to check for problems you may not feel, like cuts, bruises, sores, lumps, bumps, distortions or discolorations in the skin or nails, or any other unusual changes.
- Use a mirror, or ask someone to help, to check the bottom of your feet, too.
When you care for your feet, you should always remember to:
- Clip your toenails straight across, so the edges are left intact.
- Use a lotion or ointment to keep your skin moist. Don’t apply lotion between toes.
If you do notice any changes, or you experience any discomfort in your lower limbs, contact Martin Foot and Ankle immediately. That way any problems that do arise can be addressed before they have a chance to get out of hand.
If you have diabetes, you need to be intentional and work with a health team - like you’ll find here at Martin Foot and Ankle - to monitor and manage your health and your foot-related symptoms. Visit our contact page or call us at (717) 757-3537 for more information or to schedule an appointment at our York, Hanover, Lititz and Lancaster podiatry offices.