foot care and diabetes

foot care and diabetes

The feet of diabetics are prone to nerve damage and circulatory disorders, especially after a long period of illness. The skin is then usually susceptible and dry. In addition, many of those affected do not feel pressure points in their shoes or injuries to their feet in good time because they cannot feel pain. If an infection spreads, it can cause easily exuding sores that are difficult to heal. You should, therefore, attach particular importance to professional foot care, proper foot control and the right footwear. The following tips summarize the most essential information for those affected.

Daily inspection of feet and soles

Since people with diabetes often cannot feel changes in their feet properly, as a person with diabetes you should check your feet daily for changes, such as:

In particular, check:

  • from above instep and heel
  • from below: sole of foot
  • from the front: spaces between the toes

Examination of the soles of the feet is essential because calluses can develop here remarkably quickly. If you can’t see the soles of your feet, use a mirror. If the eyesight is insufficient for these examinations, relatives or caregivers should be consulted. You should see a doctor if you have any changes in your feet.


Diabetic foot: why control is so important

Dry skin is particularly susceptible to injury or the penetration of pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Combined with the impaired sensitivity to foot pain, this can mean that wounds develop more efficiently, go unnoticed for longer, and heal more difficultly.

This often leads to severe inflammation or ulcers. This is also known as diabetic foot or diabetic foot syndrome. Checking your feet carefully is the most critical measure to prevent diabetic feet.

Diabetic foot care

The skin of diabetics is usually dehydrated and brittle. The reason for this is the disturbed sweat production. Only consistent skin care helps here:

  • Wash your feet daily with a mild, moisturizing soap.
  • The water temperature must not exceed 37 degrees. Use a thermometer to check, as too hot water can cause scalding that may go unnoticed (neuropathy).
  • If you bathe your feet, the bath should last only three minutes. More extended foot baths soften the skin, creating a good breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
  • After washing, you should dry your feet thoroughly with a soft towel, especially between the toes, as an athlete’s foot can quickly develop when the spaces between the toes are damp.
  • If itching between the toes, people with diabetes should consult a doctor, as it is often a fungal infection that must be treated.

After bathing, carefully rub off the still-wet calluses with a pumice stone. This is necessary because the cornea cracks easily, and bacteria or germs can penetrate. Callus planes have no place on the foot of a person with diabetes. Likewise, corn plasters or tinctures must never be used, as they are caustic and damage the skin.


How can people with diabetes take care of their feet?

After washing, you should rub dry, brittle, or cracked skin with a moisturizing cream (e.g., urea). However, the spaces between the toes should not be creamed. In addition, people with diabetes should put on fresh socks daily and ensure the socks fit well.

If the sensitivity to pain or heat is limited, it is better not to use a hot water bottle or electric blanket. You could burn your feet.

If your feet are injured, you should see a doctor immediately. But it would help if you also had your feet examined by the doctor treating you during check-up appointments. Medical foot care is also paid for by health insurance in many cases.


Taking care of your feet also includes taking care of your toenails. There are also a few unique features for people with diabetes:

  • Do not cut the nails with pointed or sharp tools (e.g., scissors, clippers, or pointed nail files). A sand sheet file or a rounded diamond file are well suited.
  • File the nails straight at the corners, not round. They should only be slightly rounded off directly at the corners.
  • Only have ingrown toenails or corns removed by a professional (podiatrist or doctor).

shoes and stockings

It would help if you always bought shoes in the afternoon, as feet swell over the day from standing. The early afternoon is, therefore, the best time to buy shoes. When buying shoes, look for soft uppers without annoying seams and a well-padded sole that is not too thin.

Lace-up shoes are best suited for people with diabetes because they optimally enclose the foot. New shoes need to be broken in over a more extended period. During this time, the daily foot inspection is essential. If you have neuropathy, before putting on your shoes, you should check the insides with your hands for foreign objects or chafing seams.

Stockings should not be made of synthetic materials but wool or cotton. They should be without seams if possible, as any unevenness can lead to an injury or pressure point. People with diabetes need to change stockings every day.


What else is important

In addition to caring for your feet, there are a few other tips diabetics can use to prevent injuries or permanent damage to their diabetic foot:

  • If you have foot problems, do not walk barefoot.
  • Reducing your weight also takes the strain off your feet.
  • Targeted foot exercises are suitable for your feet.
  • Elevate your legs from time to time.
  • If you give up smoking, it will also have a positive effect on your feet.

Nevertheless, regular foot care for people with diabetes remains a “must”. This is the only way to detect and treat diabetic foot syndrome quickly.


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