Diabetes: 11 Steps to Healthier Feet

Diabetes: 11 Steps to Healthier Feet

If you have diabetes, managing blood sugar should be top of mind. While keeping your blood sugar in check is vital, individuals with diabetes also need to be vigilant when it comes to watching for disease-related complications. One of these complications is foot problems.

Diabetic nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) can cause loss of feeling in your feet, leading to ulcers, wounds that won’t heal, injuries, and in some cases, amputation. To ensure your feet stay as healthy as possible, take these important steps:

  • Inspect your feet thoroughly every day. Look between toes for blisters, cuts and scratches. Be on the lookout for ingrown toenails, corns or calluses, too.
  • Carefully wash and dry your feet daily. Use mild soaps and warm water. While skin is soft (after wash-ing), calluses can be gently buffed with a pumice stone. Do not attempt to cut or trim calluses with anything sharp.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Test water with your elbow or a thermometer before bathing, and do not walk barefoot, especially on hot surfaces like sandy beaches.
  • If your feet feel cold at night, wear socks instead of using hot water bottles or heating pads.
  • Before putting on shoes, look inside them for foreign objects, nail points and torn linings. Don’t wear shoes without socks.
  • Change socks daily. Do not wear socks that are too tight, or have seams, holes or tears. Choose cot-ton, wool or cotton-wool blend options.
  • Purchase shoes that fit well and feel comfortable. Don’t assume they’ll stretch out. Avoid wearing flip-flops, other open-toed shoes/sandals and high heels.
  • Cut nails straight across. Smooth them over with a nail file. Never cut corns or calluses, or use chemi-cal agents to remove them. Follow the advice of your physician or podiatrist.
  • Have your physician or podiatrist examine your feet annually; more often if you have known foot problems. If you have cuts/breaks in the skin or an ingrown nail, or notice changes in how your feet look or feel, call or see your health care provider.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking decreases blood circulation to your feet, and raises your risk of suffering other diabetes-related complications, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Stay active. Walking improves circulation and can help you maintain a healthy weight. Wear comfort-able, properly fitted walking shoes.

Learn More About Managing Diabetes

Holland Hospital offers Diabetes Self-Management Education & Support Services to give you the knowledge and tools you need to live a healthier, longer life. Based on national standards developed by the American Diabetes Association, our program embraces a team approach that includes you, your loved ones, your doctor and our certified diabetes educators. Together, we can help you:

  • Feel empowered to better manage your disease
  • Lower your health care costs due to improved symptom control
  • Decrease your risk of eye, kidney and nerve damage, and cardiovascular disease
  • Increase your energy level and independence
  • Enhance your quality of life

To learn more, call (616) 394-3344 or visit us online.

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  • Julie Husmann

    Julie Husmann

    Julie Husmann, MSM, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, guides people living with diabetes in their disease management and has a passion for inspiring people to make healthy lifestyle changes. Julie grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in West Michigan for the past 13 years. She enjoys skiing in Utah, walking and biking in West Michigan with her husband.

    All blogs by Julie Husmann