General Podiatric Tips and Advice for Diabetics

Podiatrists can offer a lot of valuable and essential services to diabetics because of complications of the disease that affect the feet. As diabetes progresses, a number of nervous and circulatory impairments render the foot extremely vulnerable to injury and infection, and because of these self-same impairments, infections can quickly become life threatening. This is why regular care from podiatrists is now an integral part of diabetes management, and diabetics are advised to regularly attend podiatric appointments whether they suffer from diabetic foot or not.

Without appropriate foot care thousands of diabetics in the UK alone need amputations, and in this article we take a look at some of the general podiatric tips on offer to diabetics to preserve the health of their feet.

What can I do to preserve my feet if I am diabetic?

The first and perhaps most important piece of advice to any diabetic is that they should attend their regularly scheduled podiatric appointments. These are usually arranged annually, however the frequency of appointments will vary depending on individual circumstances. These appointments will involve educating you about the care your foot needs, what symptoms to look out for, and general maintenance and inspection of the foot.

It is important that diabetics inspect their feet daily, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening, for any signs of injury or swelling in the foot. Diabetic foot involves a loss of feeling in the lower limb which means that many diabetics won’t notice that their feet have been damaged until injuries are significant. A mirror might be necessary to adequately inspect the underside of the foot.

Feet should be regularly and thoroughly washed with soap and warm water before being carefully dried and moisturised. Podiatrists can provide a specialist moisturiser, and the purpose of this is to prevent dry skin from cracking and becoming vulnerable to infection. These moisturisers shouldn’t be used in the spaces between toes as it is a confined, warm, and humid area susceptible to fungal infections.

Caring for toenails is another significant part of foot care. These nails should be cut regularly as over long nails are vulnerable to injury, but not cut so short as to pose the risk of an ingrowing toe nail.

Socks and shoes should be kept clean and dry, socks in particular should be changed on a daily basis and kept loose so as not to restrict the already poor blood flow typical of diabetic feet. Before wearing either socks or shoes diabetics should carefully inspect their shoes and socks as small stones, for example, can injure the foot.

Diabetics are also advised to avoid walking anywhere, even at home, bare foot. Slippers with hard soles are particularly recommended as they prevent any accidental scratching or cutting of the foot.

Finally diabetics are advised to avoid using heat generating pads or bottles as the limited sensation in their feet can leave them vulnerable to accidental burning. Clean, warm socks are recommended as a much safer alternative.

This advice will be proffered by podiatrists, and offers a good basis for regular and healthy foot care. Ultimately the care of diabetic feet is both the responsibility of podiatrists and the patient, who can ensure adequate foot health by working together. 

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