Due to their distance from the heart and because of the force of gravity, the feet and legs are more at risk for difficulties with circulation and healing than other parts of the body. In patients with diabetes, these risks are exacerbated by the disease since diabetes can lead to: impaired circulation, nerve damage (neuropathy), and a damaged immune system. Not only is the diabetic patient less able to fight off infection, but is also frequently unaware of injuries (foot wounds) because of neuropathy and impaired vision.
Since patients with diabetes are at high risk for developing problems with their feet, it is extremely important for them to establish a healthy routine of foot care. An effective daily regimen should include:
- Thoroughly inspecting the feet every day
- Washing the feet in temperate water daily
- Keeping the feet dry, especially between the toes
- Changing socks daily
- Taking careful care of nails, corns, calluses
- Applying moisturizer to dry skin, but not between the toes
- Not walking barefoot
- Wearing properly fitted shoes
- Carefully monitoring blood glucose levels
Diabetic patients should also make sure to take care of their general health in order to avoid potentially serious problems with their feet. In addition to having regular medical checkups, they should have regular appointments with a podiatrist to make sure of proper foot care and the detection of any injuries or abnormalities.
A healthy lifestyle is especially important for patients with diabetes. This includes maintaining an appropriate weight, engaging in gentle exercise such as swimming or biking, avoiding smoking and not drinking alcohol, and keeping cholesterol levels under control. Following these directives considerably lowers the probability of the development of diabetic foot problems and lowers the risk of the serious consequences of neglect.