Typically, people living with unmanaged diabetes will eventually experience decreased circulation and sensation in the feet. Unfortunately, this means that a diabetic can easily be walking with a foreign object in their shoe and be unable to detect it. If a foreign body or improper fitting shoes irritate the foot it can lead to the development of a diabetic foot wound or ulcer.
A diabetic foot ulcer is a defect or break in the skin. The skin acts to protect the foot from invasion of bacteria. An ulcer can act as a portal through which harmful bacteria can enter and cause infection.
There are several daily steps that, as a diabetic, you can take to decrease the likelihood of suffering from foot ulceration including the following:
- Check your feet daily. Look for redness, swelling, bruises, blisters, cuts and nail problems. If you are unable to do this yourself, ask someone to help you, or use a mirror. If you notice a break in the skin, cover it with a mild antiseptic and a sterile dressing. If you find that a cut or abrasion is not healing, then contact a chiropodist immediately
- Wear appropriate footwear. Make sure to accommodate for the length and width of your foot
- Wash feet daily and dry well between the toes. Do not force the toes apart when drying.
- Apply a moisturizing cream to maintain hydration of the skin.
- Cut nails straight across and do not cut down into the sides of the toe. Use a nail file to smooth rough edges. If you are having difficulty cutting your nails, or you have decreased sensation or reduced blood flow to your feet, than consult your chiropodist for treatment
- Never soak your feet for long periods of time.
- Do not use heating pads or hot water bottles
- Change socks or stockings daily. Avoid socks that have thick seams or that are constrictive.
- Never walk barefoot.