Care of your feet

Diabetes is a disorder where a patient has high blood sugar levels affects multiple organs. One of the organs at the greatest risk is your feet. In this article we explain how to take care of the feet and how to avoid problems that occur otherwise.

Why foot care?

  • A total of 15% of the diabetic patients suffer from foot ulcers during their lifetime. Do you want to be one of them?

  • A clinical study reported the effect of proper foot care and attention on the prevention and control of diabetic foot ulcers. Hence, it need not be more effectively stressed that foot care helps prevent foot ulcers.

Let us develop an overview of the problem before we learn how to address it.

Initially, you may experience a loss of sensation in your feet, followed by muscular atrophy (i.e., the destruction of muscle tissues, which is sometimes accompanied by cracking of dry skin and bone deformations). These are the problems associated with diabetic neuropathy (which are the changes in the nerves of diabetic patients). Hence, you should regularly visit a physician to get your feet checked and inspected.

What else should you know about diabetic foot disease?

Diabetic foot ulcers usually result in

  • Thick callus and infection

  • Pus

  • Oedema or swelling

  • Redness

  • Bad odour

How to manage diabetic foot?

  • Be aware of the need for proper foot care

  • Check your feet regularly and report any sores or cuts that do not heal

  • Control blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol

  • Stop smoking

  • Manage wounds with therapy and clinician’s assistance

How to practice foot care effectively?

  • Carefully observe changes in your feet including colour, swelling, breaks in the skin, pain or numbness

  • Use well-fitting and comfortable footwear

  • Check your footwear regularly for areas that will cause friction or other problems

  • Seek help from a health care professional if your footwear causes difficulties or problems

  • Wear specialist footwear if it has been prescribed/supplied

  • Practice hygiene (daily washing and careful drying)

  • Moisturise dry skin

  • Take care of your nails

  • Know the dangers associated with practices such as skin removal and dangers associated with over-the-counter preparations for foot problems

  • Seek advice from a health care professional if any colour change, swelling, breaks in the skin, corns or calluses, pain or numbness are found or if self-care and monitoring are not possible or difficult because of reduced mobility

  • Keep in mind the possible consequences of neglecting the feet, potential complications and the benefits of prevention and prompt detection and treatment

  • For people at increased, or high, risk of foot ulcers, the following points should be kept in mind, in addition to the above:

  • If neuropathy is present, extra care, vigilance and additional precautions needed to keep the feet protected.

  • Do not walk barefoot

  • Learn to deal with potential burning of numb feet

  • Check bath temperatures

  • Avoid hot water bottles, electric blankets, foot spas and sitting too close to fires

Additional advice about foot care on holiday

  • Do not wear new shoes

  • Plan adequate rest periods to avoid additional stress on the feet

  • Walk up and down aisles when travelling by air

  • Use sun block on the feet

  • Carry a first aid kit and cover any sores with a sterile dressing

  • Seek medical help if problems develop

Disclaimer

  • Issued in public interest by Novartis

  • Always consult your doctor for any medical advice

  • The information contained here is not to be used for treatment purpose or for diagnosis of health problems or as a substitute to expert medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any health related problems or queries that you may have. Although great care has been taken in computing and checking the information, Novartis is not responsible or liable in any way for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in or otherwise howsoever for any consequences arising there from

References

  • Shahi S, Kumar A, Kumar S, Singh S. Prevalence of diabetic foot ulcer and associated risk factors in diabetic patients from North India. The Journal of Diabetic Foot Complications. 2012;4:83.

  • Prevention and management of foot problems in people with type 2 diabetes. NICE Clinical Guidance.London, UK; 2004:6-19.

  • “Reiber G, William L. Epidemiology of diabetic foot ulcers and amputations: evidence for prevention. In: Williams R, Herman W, Kinmonth AL, Wareham N, eds. The evidence base for diabetes care. 1st ed. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 2002:16.

  • Taber`s Medical Dictionary. http://www.tabers.com/tabersonline/view/Tabers-Dictionary/762248/all/atrophy Accessed October, 2014.

  • Simmons Z, Feldman E. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy In: Williams R, Herman W, Kinmonth AL, Wareham N, eds. The evidence base for diabetes care. 1st ed. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 2002:558.

  • Management of Diabetes. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. Edinburgh, UK; 2010:104.

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