Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Diabetes and foot care

Foot Care is an essential component to your diabetes management.  Diabetes affects the circulation of your body and its immune system, which impairs the body’s ability to heal wounds. As well, over time the excess blood sugar can cause damage to the nerves in the feet, which is known as “neuropathy”. As a result of neuropathy, people are less likely to feel an injury, such as a cut or blister. If this goes unnoticed, it could become infected and lead to serious complications such as gangrene, loss of a limb, or Charcot foot, plus others. 

What can you do to reduce complications from neuropathy?  Start by visually inspecting your feet daily, including the bottom and in between your toes. Use a mirror if you have to.  Check to make sure there is no cuts, cracks, ingrown toenails, blisters, etc. Wash your feet in warm (not hot) water, using a mild soap.  Don’t soak your feet as that could cause dryness. Dry your feet carefully, especially between your toes.   If there are cuts, cracks, etc., cover them with a dry dressing suitable for sensitive skin.  Trim your toenails straight across and file and sharp edges. Don’t cut them too short.  Put unperfumed lotion on your heels and soles, and thoroughly rub it in. Do not put lotion in between your toes as this excess moisture will may promote infection. While putting on lotion, notice the temperature of your feet, it should be warm, not cold or hot. Exercise regularly to improve circulation. Wear proper footwear that is supportive and do not rub or pinch. 

If you do have neuropathy, follow the above instructions but also wear white socks instead of black or dark brown. White socks allow you to see if there is any discharge from a crack or cut. Do not put a heater or hot water bottle on your feet as you may not feel any pain it may be causing. 

It’s best for everyone to have their feet checked by a healthcare professional yearly, if not more often.  However, if you have any swelling, warmth, redness, numbness, tingling or pain in your legs or feet, contact your healthcare professional right away.  

Cherie deBoer is a Registered Nurse at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network.

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