What is diabetes foot care?

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Diabetes foot health: Overview

When you have diabetes, your feet need extra care and attention. Diabetes can damage the nerve endings and blood vessels in your feet, making you less likely to notice when your feet are injured. Diabetes also limits your body's ability to fight infection and get blood to areas that need it. If you get a minor foot injury, it could become an ulcer or a serious infection. With good foot care, you can prevent most of these problems.

Caring for your feet can be quick and easy. Most of the care can be done when you are bathing or getting ready for bed.

Diabetes foot health: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a foot sore, an ulcer or break in the skin that is not healing after 4 days, bleeding corns or calluses, or an ingrown toenail.
  • You have blue or black areas, which can mean bruising or blood flow problems.
  • You have peeling skin or tiny blisters between your toes or cracking or oozing of the skin.
  • You have a fever for more than 24 hours and a foot sore.
  • You have new numbness or tingling in your feet that does not go away after you move your feet or change positions.
  • You have unexplained or unusual swelling of the foot or ankle.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You cannot do proper foot care.

Protecting your feet when you have diabetes

Because you have diabetes, you need to be especially careful to protect your feet from injury. These tips can help.

  • Wear shoes all the time.
    • If you don't want to wear shoes indoors, wear slippers with hard soles and good support. Keep your shoes next to your bed. Slip them on your feet as soon as you get out of bed.
    • Wear protective beach or surf shoes when you swim.
    • Wear shower shoes in public baths and pools. This can help to prevent athlete's foot, plantar warts, and other contagious conditions.
  • Wear socks or stockings with shoes.

    Wear socks without seams. Avoid tight-fitting socks and garters.

  • Wear socks in bed if your feet are cold at night.

    Do not use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your feet.

  • Always check your shoes before you put them on.
    • Look and feel inside them for anything that could cause discomfort or injury, such as pebbles, a torn lining, or rough spots.
    • Check the soles for any nails or tacks that may puncture your foot.
  • Take care to prevent damage to your feet.
    • Avoid tight shoes.
    • Don't sit with your legs or ankles crossed.
    • Keep the walkways in your home clear of objects that you might trip over.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.