One side affect of prolonged high blood sugar is diabetic neuropathy. This is damage to nerves in your extremities. You may not feel heat, cold, or pain in affected areas. If you also suffer from poor blood circulation, any injuries will heal much more slowly, and give them a chance to develop infection.
1. Make sure to wear shoes that fit you at all times. Poor fitting shoes can lead to blisters. If you don’t feel a blister, it could get infected and develop into something much worse.
2. Check your feet daily for cuts, scrapes, and other abrasions.
3. Keep your feet clean. A cut you don’t notice can become infected if your feet aren’t cleaned daily. Use soap and warm water, but check with your hand or elbow to make sure the water isn’t too hot! Remember, if you’re already suffering the effects of diabetic neuropathy, you won’t be able to feel the scalding heat on your feet.
4. After bathing, make sure your feet are completely dry. Excessive moisture could promote bacterial growth.
5. Dry skin can be soothed with lotion, but don’t put lotion between your toes.
6. Keep your toenails trimmed. This will be easiest after a bath or your daily foot wash – the nails will be softer. If you aren’t comfortable cutting your own toenails, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist or ask a family member for help.
7. Always wear socks or stockings to protect your feet from blisters. Don’t pick socks that are highly elasticized, they could decrease circulation in your legs and feet.
8. Always wear shoes or slippers around the house to protect your feet from injury.
9. Schedule check-ups with a foot doctor every six months or so, or have your diabetes doctor check your feet at every visit
Your doctor can help you determine the extent of diabetic neuropathy in your feet and legs. Ask her to check your sensitivity and how well the blood is flowing. She can also show you the proper way to trim your toenails or treat calluses – and send you to a podiatrist if necessary.
If you’re worried that you’ll forget to ask your doctor about your feet at your next check-up, try this trick: as soon as you enter the exam room, take off your shoes and socks!