With summer just around the corner, it is time to get your feet in flip flop shape. For people living with diabetes, foot care must go beyond what color to paint your toes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing foot complications due to diabetic neuropathy – nerve damage that is caused in large part to high levels of glucose in the blood stream. Other reasons for damage to the nerves include genetic predisposition, nerve inflammation, and smoking and alcohol abuse. The type of diabetic neuropathy that specifically affects your extremities (most commonly the feet) is called peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy often become worse at night and can include:
• Lack of sensation or decreased capacity to feel pain or differences in warmth
• Tingling or burning sensation (pins and needles)
• Sharp pains or cramps
• Increased sensitivity to touch
• Weakening of muscles including reflex, balance, and coordination deficits
• Infection, ulcers, bone and joint pain and other foot abnormalities.
Unattended to foot problems can lead to severe infection, gangrene, and in some cases amputation. It is recommended that you make annual appointments with your doctor or podiatrist for a foot exam, but start with a daily foot check. Look for any wounds, redness, blisters, calluses, and infected or ingrown toenails. If you can’t easily check your feet, use a mirror or asked a loved one or caregiver to take a look.
Clean feet are happy feet! Keep your tootsies clean by washing them in warm water. Soaking feet in hot water sounds relaxing but this can actually dry out the skin in your feet and make them more prone to bacteria and infection. Maintain moisture in your feet by using a thin application of lotion to the tops and bottoms of your feet, avoiding the spaces between the toes (moisture there might also cause an infection). You can gently use a pumice stone to smooth your feet, being careful not to tear the skin.
Keeping your toenails tidy is also important. Cut them straight across and not rounded. This will help to prevent ingrown toenails. In some circumstances, you may need to visit your healthcare professional to trim your toenails if they do become ingrown or are yellow from a fungal infection. If you do splurge and pamper yourself with a pedicure, make sure that you tell your nail technician about your diabetes and bring your own sterilized tools with you for added safety.
The shoe must fit! Don’t be Cinderella and shove your foot into too tight shoes. Those pointy, six-inch Manolos that you saw Carrie Bradshaw wear on Sex and the City might tickle your fancy, but they for sure won’t tickle your toes. Wear shoes that fit well and a good tip for shoe shopping is to try on shoes towards the end of the day when your feet are slightly bigger. Wear clean socks always and avoid wearing open-toed shoes when possible.
The main key to maintain healthy feet is keeping your blood sugar in range as best you can with your Dario Diabetes Management System. The more you use Dario, the better picture you will have to understand how different foods, activities, and moods impact your blood sugar. Keep the blood flow moving in your feet and go for a dance with your Dario.
Resources: Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic neuropathy/basics/symptoms/con-20033336