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Prevention and Care

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin.

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems. The good news? With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications.

Inspect your feet every day, and seek care early if you do get a foot injury. Make sure your health care provider checks your feet at least once a year - more often if you have foot problems. Your health care provider should also give you a list and explain the do's and don'ts of foot care.

Most people can prevent any serious foot problem by following some simple steps. So let's begin taking care of your feet today.

Prevention

Your health care provider should perform a complete foot exam at least annually - more often if you have foot problems.

Remember to take off your socks and shoes while you wait for your physical examination.

Call or see your health care provider if you have cuts or breaks in the skin, or have an ingrown nail. Also, tell your health care provider if your foot changes color, shape, or just feels different (for example, becomes less sensitive or hurts).

If you have corns or calluses, your health care provider can trim them for you. Your health care provider can also trim your toenails if you cannot do so safely.

Because people with diabetes are more prone to foot problems, a foot care specialist may be on your health care team.

Caring for Your Feet

There are many things you can do to keep your feet healthy.

  • Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
  • Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
  • Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health team.
  • Ask your doctor about Medicare coverage for special shoes.
  • Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
  • Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes. Read more about skin care.
  • If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
  • Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
  • Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don't put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
  • Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, two (2) or three (3) times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time. Don't smoke.
  • Get started now. Begin taking good care of your feet today.  Set a time every day to check your feet.

 

 

Copyright 1995-2011, American Diabetes Association. All rights reserved.

Complications

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin.

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems. The good news? With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications.

Inspect your feet every day, and seek care early if you do get a foot injury. Make sure your health care provider checks your feet at least once a year - more often if you have foot problems. Your health care provider should also give you a list and explain the do's and don'ts of foot care.

Most people can prevent any serious foot problem by following some simple steps. So let's begin taking care of your feet today.

Complications

People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Even ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage, also called neuropathy, which results in loss of feeling in your feet. Poor blood flow or changes in the shape of your feet or toes may also cause problems.

Neuropathy

Although it can hurt, diabetic nerve damage can also lessen your ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Loss of feeling often means you may not feel a foot injury. You could have a tack or stone in your shoe and walk on it all day without knowing. You could get a blister and not feel it. You might not notice a foot injury until the skin breaks down and becomes infected.

Nerve damage can also lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes. Ask your health care provider about special therapeutic shoes, rather than forcing deformed feet and toes into regular shoes.

Skin Changes

Diabetes can cause changes in the skin of your foot. At times, your foot may become very dry. The skin may peel and crack. The problem is that the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your foot no longer work.

After bathing, dry your feet and seal in the remaining moisture with a thin coat of plain petroleum jelly, an unscented hand cream, or other such products.

Do not put oils or creams between your toes. The extra moisture can lead to infection. Also, don't soak your feet — that can dry your skin.

Calluses

Calluses occur more often and build up faster on the feet of people with diabetes. This is because there are high-pressure areas under the foot. Too much callus may mean that you will need therapeutic shoes and inserts.

Calluses, if not trimmed, get very thick, break down, and turn into ulcers (open sores). Never try to cut calluses or corns yourself - this can lead to ulcers and infection. Let your health care provider cut your calluses. Also, do not try to remove calluses and corns with chemical agents. These products can burn your skin.

Why do you need diabetic shoes?

A common side effect of diabetes is "peripheral neuropathy," which causes loss of sensation in the extremities. Ill-fitting shoes which rub or pinch the feet excessively can lead to ulceration and foot injury, simply because the diabetic does not feel the injury until it is too late.

Properly fitted diabetic shoes are very important in preventing such injuries. Companies specializing in pedorthics -- the design of footwear and specialty insoles to help alleviate and/or prevent foot pain and injury -- manufacture special shoes and insoles for diabetics.

Diabetic shoes are often wider and deeper than regular shoes, to make room for special diabetic insoles. Pedorthic insoles for diabetics are generally custom made for the patient's feet, to ensure proper fit and minimize rubbing and uneven weight distribution, preventing injury. It is also important for a diabetic to have shoes with good air circulation, meaning a lot of diabetic footwear features fabric or sandal-style uppers. 

It is very important for a diabetic to have their shoes custom fitted by a trained professional, since they may not be able to feel an improper fit, due to peripheral neuropathy. By ensuring proper fit and good air circulation, properly designed diabetic shoes and insoles prevent pressure ulcers, encourage good blood circulation, and allow the skin to breathe.

Some things to look for in good shoe designs for diabetics are:

  • Diabetic Shoes need to have a breathable construction - sandals and fabric shoes are good for this.
  • Deep and wide designs that allow room for custom pedorthic insoles.
  • Designs with no interior seams (or covered seams) to prevent rubbing injuries.
  • Diabetic Shoes need a roomy "toe box" to prevent pinching or squeezing of the toes.
  • Elastic or easily adjustable fit, to prevent the diabetic shoe from sliding around on the feet.

Shoes and custom insoles which are specially designed to meet the needs of diabetics' feet will often be partially or fully covered by Medicare or private insurance, offsetting the cost of the customization.

 

 

©2011 InformationAboutDiabetes.com. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and our Privacy Policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

What Are Diabetic Socks?

When you think about all of the items that people with diabetes use in order to assist with dealing with their disease, chances are you never consider the importance of socks. Diabetic socks are not only an actual product, they also provide a valuable service for those who are trying to make the most of their condition.

Diabetic socks work much the same way as a regular sock by serving as a protective barrier between the foot and a shoe. But diabetic socks are much more than that. Their design, material and function separate them from regular socks.

Diabetic socks allow more oxygen to the feet which allows them to breathe easier and eliminate the possibility for the growth of bacteria or fungus. Giving way to air flow keeps feet fresh and is much more effective in controlling moisture. This is accomplished by using anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties in its multi-wicker fiber yarn. They are also used to increase blood circulation. This is of vital importance to those living with diabetes who have to routinely contend with this issue. They give proper support without being restrictive.

When looking at the design of a diabetic sock you can see that the top weave is larger to allow for proper stretching, which greatly reduces binding. The overall texture is specifically made to cut down on friction or irritation from use.

The right diabetic sock should also be white, or at least light colored. This gives the user immediate notification of an ulcer or an open wound on the foot. It should also be seamless in design since many diabetics are very acutely sensitive to seams or have nerve damage that can be aggravated from walking on seams.

 

 

©2011 InformationAboutDiabetes.com. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and our Privacy Policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.