Diabetes foot care is a major concern throughout the year, but it becomes even more challenging to keep your diabetic feet healthy during the winter. Rain, snow, chilly air and even wearing boots can mean your feet take a beating. Discover more about winter woes and having healthy feet with diabetes.
- Inspect your feet every day. Look at the tops, bottoms, between the toes and at pressure areas, such as the balls and heels of your feet. Search for cuts, abrasions, sores, blisters, drainage, color changes, discharge, strange or strong odor, calluses and corns. If you have difficulty seeing your feet, use a long handled or magnifying mirror or ask a family member or friend to help you check your feet. Consider adding a podiatrist to your health care team to check your feet.
Winter conditions and heavy footwear can leave you more susceptible to a foot issue such as an ulcer. Other contributing factors include decreased circulation, numbness and neuropathy, as well as the winter dampness and coldness. Have your feet measured to ensure your shoes and socks are the proper size. Wear waterproof boots with diabetes socks in inclement weather to keep your feet safe and dry. They should be fit properly so blood flow to your diabetic feet is not constricted. Socks should be breathable with no irritating seams. Try to avoid man-made boot and shoe materials that can make your feet sweat. Choose socks that wick away the moisture that forms. Look inside your socks and shoes for debris before putting them on. Avoid puddles and snow piles that can make your socks, shoes and feet damp, causing bacteria to form. If your feet get wet, remove your soggy shoes and socks right away. Then dry your feet completely, including the areas between your toes.
Sitting by a heater, fire place or riding around in a car with the heat turned up means dry winter heat may be directed at your feet. Also, be cautious when using heating pads, electric blankets or soaking your feet in a bath. With diabetic nerve damage, you may not feel the extreme heat until a burn occurs, so test all heating elements first. Heat and decreased circulation can minimize the function of the moisturizing glands in your feet. This moisture must be replenished to avoid cracked feet that can lead to infections. Wash your diabetic feet daily with warm tepid water. Test it with your finger or a thermometer. Use a mild soap with a soft cloth to clean your feet. Dry your feet completely and gently, without rubbing. Apply one of the special diabetic skin creams to the tops and bottoms of your feet. Avoid putting moisturizer between your toes. Use powder to dry between toes.
A leading cause of foot ulcers and other painful infections are ingrown toenails. Your toenails should be trimmed regularly. Discuss the proper way to trim them with your physician. They should be clipped straight across and made smooth with an emery board. It is best to trim them after a shower when your toenails are softer. If your toenails are discolored or thick, or you have corns or calluses, your feet may need attention from a medical professional. Never try to cut or trim calluses or corns yourself as it can lead to serious infections. Avoid going barefoot in or outdoors.
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is another essential part of diabetic foot care. Maintain a healthy weight to put less pressure on your diabetic feet. Check your blood sugar regularly and work with your doctor. If you smoke, it’s time to quit.
A few simple precautions can go a long way when it comes to fighting off the winter woes related to diabetic foot care. Keep your feet clean and dry, maintain proper blood sugar control and work with a doctor to find ways to keep you healthier. At the end of the day, your feet are sure to look and feel much better.