Steps to care for your feet and keep them healthy
Having looked at the potential risks to the feet of a person with diabetes, this final installment will look at appropriate steps to take to keep the feet healthy and safe from potential injury and/or complications.
The Diabetes Association of Queensland has presented a 5 step protocol towards attaining healthy feet. The steps follow the below:
Caring for your feet
Wash and dry you feet daily ensuring that you dry well inbetween the toes. The best way to do this would be to use a towel.
Prevent the skin on your feet from getting dry by rubbing moisturiser daily. Moisturisers like sorbolene, vitamin E and aloe vera creams are a good way of maintaining moisture. It is important to remember however not to put moisturiser inbetween the toes as this region should be as dry as possible. Wearing socks also helps keen the skin from becoming dry.
If you are able to reach them and do it safely, it is vital to cut and file your toenails carefully each week. Using clippers, cut only small pieces at a time and use a file to round off sharp edges. If you cannot see or reach your feet, your nails can be cut by a podiatrist
Check your feet daily
Always make an effort to check your feet daily as a way of always ensuring that any potential problems can be addressed before they become serious. Look at the top and bottom of the feet as well as the back of the heels. If you cannot see the bottom of your feet then use a mirror or get someone to help you check the bottom of your feet.
Protect your feet from injury
Always make sure that you are wearing footwear that is appropriate for your feet. Try to minimize the amount of time spent walking around barefoot. Around your house it is a good idea to wear shoes, sandals or slippers. Avoid wearing tight fitting or poorly fitted shoes and heels as they may cause corns or callouses to develop. You should also always check your shoes before wearing them by looking and feeling inside them as well as turning them upside down to ensure no pebbles or debris is located inside it. When in the market for new shoes, always ensure to buy your shoes in the afternoon when your feet are a little larger. It is also important to have your feet professionally measured and if you need advice on the type of footwear appropriate for your feet, see a podiatrist.
Reduce or stop your smoking
Smoking reduced the blood flow to the feet and may put your feet at a greater risk of damage. A good blood flow to the feet is vital for the feet to stay healthy. Smoking may also result in any wounds healing a lot more slowly than normal.
Have your feet checked by a podiatrist
Your GP can refer you to a podiatrist for regular treatments or for an annual foot health check assessment. Your podiatrist will be able to assess, diagnose, prevent and manage any problems associated with your feet. Your podiatrist’s assessment will look at your blood supply and circulation, skin problems, foot function and shape, nail problems and footwear and will work with you and your doctor to create a management plan appropriate for your feet.
If you have diabetes, you are also eligible for a Medicare rebate, through the Enhanced Primary Care Program. To be eligible, you require a referral from your GP which you need to take to your podiatrist. For more details on this program, visit this link http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-medicare-health_pro-gp-pdf-allied-cnt.htm
If you or anyone you know has any concerns with their feet or lower limbs, please contact us as we will may be able to help out.
Anel Kapur (Podiatrist)