If you are a patient with diabetes, proper care of your feet is essential at all times of the year. Being farthest from the heart, and the possibility of impaired circulation commonly associated with the disease means that even minor cuts, blisters or other foot conditions can be difficult to heal and become a serious medical threat. There are some special challenges that come with the colder weather months, however, that we at Paul Klein, DPM FACFAS want to help our diabetic patients negotiate. Here are some tips:
- Re-evaluate Socks and Shoes—when the temperature drops, we tend to pile on heavier clothes and extra layers. Thicker socks may affect the way your shoes fit and cause friction or blisters where previously thinner socks did not. Roomier toe boxes and shoes with a good tread to help avoid slips and falls are recommended. Don’t wear the same pair of shoes or boots for multiple days in a row. This can put repeated pressure on one part of your feet or toes that could lead to a sore or bone issue.
- Don’t turn up the heat—another condition that often accompanies diabetes is neuropathy, or loss of sensation in the feet from nerve damage. That’s why it’s important not to use electric blankets or put feet directly in front of an open fire or other direct heat sources. You may not be able to perceive when it’s too hot, so burns can result. Test the bath water with your hand before stepping into the tub.
- Keep feet dry—dampness inside dark, closed toe shoes or boots is the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal infections to grow. If your feet become damp from slush and ice penetrating your shoes or from sweat due to getting overheated, change your socks immediately. If you tend to sweat excessively, use a foot powder before putting on your socks in the morning.
- Use extra moisturizer—on the opposite end of the spectrum, in some diabetic patients the sweat glands don’t function properly and feet can become overly dry. This risk is increased during the winter months when the air is dry as well. Use a rich, emollient moisturizer daily to prevent cracking.
Examine your feet regularly and bring any abnormalities or signs of irritation or ulcers to the attention of our podiatrist, Dr. Paul G. Klein immediately. You can contact our Wayne, NJ office for an appointment by calling: 973-595-1555.