General Diabetic Foot Care Tips

May 12, 2020
Diabetic foot is a common cause of hospitalization. To avoid major complications, it’s essential to learn diabetic foot care tips.

Diabetic foot care is very important, since this condition implies that the patient is more susceptible to suffering from certain types of injuries, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. Therefore, it’s a risky condition.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than 400 million people worldwide. This condition causes a significant increase in blood glucose (sugar) levels. This occurs when the body doesn’t secrete enough insulin, or none at all.

Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas secretes. It allows glucose from foods to enter the cells to supply them with energy. If there isn’t enough insulin, glucose remains in the blood, causing serious health problems over time.

What’s diabetic foot?

A digital representation of diabetic foot.

Diabetic foot is a neuropathic (nerve involvement) clinical disorder that’s induced by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). It can occur with or without the coexistence of ischemia (lack of blood supply). After a traumatic trigger, it produces foot injury or ulceration.

Today, it’s one of the main causes of non-traumatic amputations since it’s common for patients to suffer complications, such as ulcers and neuropathies (loss of feeling). According to the World Health Organization, diabetes will affect more than 330 million people by 2030.

“Diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) are associated with significant impairment of quality of life, increased morbidity and mortality and are a huge drain on health care resources,” says Dr. Andrew Boulton, professor at the University of Manchester and Consultant Physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

This article may interest you: 11 Complications of Diabetes

General diabetic foot care tips

Diabetic foot care.
Although cutting your fingernails and toenails properly requires some technique, it’s actually quite easy.
  • Never walk barefoot. Nerve damage decreases feeling, meaning that you may not feel stones or small objects trapped in your foot.
  • Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water. Don’t soak your feet. To dry your feet, pat each one gently with a towel instead of rubbing them vigorously. Be very careful when you’re drying between your toes.
  • Use lotion to keep the skin of your feet soft and hydrated. This avoids cracks from dry skin and lowers the risk of infection. Don’t put lotion between your toes.
  • Cut your toenails without curving them and avoid cutting corners. Use a nail file or emery board. If you detect an ingrown toenail, see your doctor.
  • Don’t use antiseptic solutions, over-the-counter drugs, heat pads, or sharp instruments on your feet. Also, don’t put your feet on radiators or in front of the stove.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and lowers the body’s ability to transport oxygen. Combined with diabetes, smoking could significantly increase the risk of amputation (not just of the feet but of other parts of the body, such as the hands).

Shoe tips

A man wearing blue shoes.

Choose and wear your shoes carefully, as poorly fitting shoes can lead to ulcers and, subsequently, to infections.

  • Buy new shoes at late hours of the day, when your feet are more dilated. Also, make sure they’re comfortable and walk around in them.
  • Control the fit of your shoe regarding the width, length, back, heel, and soles of your feet. Measure your feet every time you buy new shoes.
  • Avoid shoes with pointed toes and high heels. Try to buy shoes with uppers of leather upper and a wide toe box.
  • Only wear new shoes for two hours or less each time. Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
  • Inspect the inside of each shoe before putting it on. Don’t tie your shoes too tight or too loose.
  • Avoid long walks without taking breaks, get organized so you can take off your shoes and socks, and control signs of pressure (redness) or ulcers.

Before you go, make sure you read: How To Care For Diabetic Foot At Home

Final thoughts

As you’ve seen, it’s important that all patients with high blood sugar levels take measures to care for diabetic foot. In addition to medical check-ups, this will help avoid complications.

If you need more information, the Spanish Diabetes Society (SED) published a very complete guide that you can read.

  • Diabetic foot ulcers: prevention and treatment. A coloplast quick guide. 2012. https://www.coloplast.us/Global/US/Wound%20Care/Diabetic%20Foot%20Ulcers%20Quickguide_M4007N.pdf
  • Inlow, S. et al. Best practices for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers,
    Ostomy/Wound Management 2000, Vol. 46(11): 55-68.
  • International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot, International Consensus on the Diabetic Foot, 2007,
    2011.
  • Bakker, K. et al. The year of the diabetic foot, Diabetes Voice, March 2005, Vol. 50(1): 11-14.