Caring for Your Diabetic Feet
Ever since I found out I was diabetic, I’ve had fears of complications to my legs and feet. In fact, this is my greatest fear, not the increased risk for heart disease, blindness, or kidney or even liver failure. Although, these things are very legitimate fears that I have worried about, the fear of losing parts of myself is the greatest one I have.
I think I have this particular fear because my dad had PAD and ended up losing a kidney,several toes, then half his foot and seems like it just continued on and on for more parts to be removed. Also my mom had invasive skin cancer and multiple surgeries which caused facial disfigurement for my beautiful mother. It actually was like we were losing them piece by piece and in such a horrible fashion.
So, in light of that background, I have been particularly careful with my feet. Wearing only comfortable, great fitting shoes, checking them daily, keeping my nails cut and trying to take care with them.
Possible Complications to Your Feet
There are many complications to the feet and legs that you as a diabetic should be aware of. Some of these are as follows:
Circulation and Blood Clots
Diabetics can develop PAD or peripheral artery disease and lose full circulation to their extremities, especially the legs and feet. Care should be taken with any injuries to the foot; even small wounds should be treated immediately and watched carefully. You should be very careful with hot water and heating pads to make sure you do not receive a burn to your feet either. Damage to nerves can cause numbness in the feet and toes so that we might not even feel a injury to our feet.
Tight control of our BGL can help ensure that our wounds heal quickly. Activity, like walking is great to keep the circulation going. For myself, since I can’t walk much, I like to ride the stationary and recumbent bike and swim and I also use a peddle exerciser. I try to move my feet a lot and keep them propped up when I can to reduce swelling that I’m prone to. Smoking is very bad for diabetics and I’m so glad I never got that that awful addiction.
I would suggest that any wound, or blister that doesn’t heal quickly should be immediately checked out by your doc. Swelling or heat and redness in your calf or leg can also indicate an possible blood clot which should be also be checked out immediately.
Deformities of the Foot
Any deformities of the foot, like bunions, bumps, dropped arches, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, calluses and more can increate pressure on certain parts of your foot and cause issues like a skin breakdown, infection or ulcer.
I’ve read that foot ulcers are the most common cause of later amputation and:
“Up to 10% of diabetics will have an amputation at some point during their lives”
That is definitely a frightening statistic. So immediate and correct treatment of wounds, sores and ulcers is imperative for us.
You might have read that you should not cut and trim your own feet. Actually you may, but if you are overweight and have pain bending like I do, then its best to have someone else do your pedicures for you.
Using a emery board or nail file is safer that cutting your nails with clippers. Be sure your salon uses very good hygiene and cleaning of their tools and soaking tubs before you make an appointment.
If you develop an ingrown toenail, it would be best for a doctor to take care of that, instead of taking a chance on injuring yourself. Always be aware that an redness, swelling, pus can mean an infection and should been seen immediately.
Fungal infections can also be a problem and are contagious. They should be treated with medications from your podiatrist or dermatologist.
What Should we Do?
We should pay a lot of attention to our feet and toes to ensure they stay with us into our old age.
Feet should be checked every day for any injuries, blisters, sores, dryness or calluses. And we should keep them clean, dry between the toes and use lotion to prevent dry, cracking skin. DO NOT put lotion between your toes. Be very careful when using pumice and abrasives on your feet to avoid damage to the skin also.
Shoes and Socks
I am very particular with my socks and shoes, making sure nothing is too tight or confining for my feet or rubs a blister. Heels are out for me, only flats or athletic or walking type shoes with good support. You may need specially fitted shoes if you have any deformities, bunions, etc. I also never wear pointed type shoes, or tight ones, because they do not give my toes enough room and cause blisters, since I have a wide foot. I purchase diabetic socks that wick the moisture from my feet and get the ones without seams or I’m very careful with the seams with I tie my shoes, so that they do not rub against my toes and skin.
Do not go barefoot, wear shoes all the time, especially at the beach, in the yard and in public showers and where-ever you could pick up germs and fungus. Wearing shoes even inside on carpets is best.
Diet and Supplements
A diabetics diet is very important, because that is the best way you will keep tight control of your blood glucose levels (BGL).
Most physicians will want your levels to be between 90 and 180. Actually 90-100 is normal for non-diabetics, so the closer you can stay to the normal levels, the better.
I take vitamin d, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and Zinc because they are good for healing wounds supposedly. Vitiamin E is good for diabetics; however I take other meds that I should not take E with, so I avoid it. I do take Magnesium to help with insulin resistance, drink milk thistle, green tea and put cinnamon in my foods. Whenever I have a higher carb meal, I take a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
I also try to eat lots of green veggies, low glycemic fruits and lean meats and fish. Salmon and tuna is great. I take fish oil and coconut oil and use both it and olive oil for cooking. I rarely fry foods, usually sautéing or baking it. I do tend to use my crock pot a lot with poultry, lean beef and veggies. Salads are great, especially with nuts and berries in them.
For years, I’ve been very good to my feet and they have done great, in fact, several of those giving me my pedicures said I had the nicest feet they had worked with. It made me feel good and affirmed that I was taking care of them well.
But in my next post I will describe a problem, a serious one that I’ve recently had happen with my the skin of my feet and legs. You will learn all about this painful problem in my next post in a day or so about skin complications. Shirley
Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below. In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes. Please share your interests and questions in your comments. I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.