April is National Foot Health Awareness Month

If you have diabetes, healthy feet are a priority.

You may have heard that diabetics need to check their feet every day.  Why the repetition of diabetic foot care? One of the complications that people with diabetes may develop is neuropathy.  Neuropathy is damage to the nerves in your body, especially in your hands and feet, which can cause tingling and numbness.  This condition can be serious when you no longer feel being cut or punctured on your feet.  People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing infections and once developed, serious infections can lead to amputation of toes or feet.

Follow these suggestions from the National Diabetes Education Program to prevent serious foot problems:

  • Check your feet every day.  Take care to check between each of your toes and look at the bottom of your feet.  Just glancing down at your feet will not reveal small cuts or blisters that might be developing.
  • Keep your feet dry, especially between your toes.  Bacteria love to live in dark, moist places and between your toes is a perfect place for them to flourish.
  • Wash your feet each day. This is a perfect time to check your feet.
  • Keep your feet soft.  This is important if you have dry skin and develop cracks in your heels.  Apply a moisturizing lotion every day to your feet.  Lotion the tops, bottoms and heels of your feet.  Avoid putting lotion between your toes to keep that area dry.
  • When cutting toenails, use care not to clip the skin around the nail.  Cut straight across.
  • If you cannot reach your feet, ask a family member or caregiver to check them and to cut your nails.  You may also make appointments with podiatrists – doctors specializing in foot care.
  • Wear well-fitting socks and shoes.  Socks or shoes that are too tight may cause misshapen toes or blisters.

In addition to daily foot care, you need to have your health care provider or a foot doctor examine your feet once a year as part of your diabetes wellness check-up.  Doctors can check your feet to see if there is any loss of feeling and to check foot pulse for good blood flow.

Michigan State University Extension recommends these tips to help keep your diabetes under control and reduce your risk of foot problems:

  • Plan healthy meals according to your diabetes meal plan.  Don’t have one?  Check with your health care provider for a referral to a registered dietician or diabetes educator in your area.
  • Exercise every day.  Walking is one of the easiest and least costly exercises and is perfect for keeping the blood flowing to your feet.
  • Can’t walk?  Move your feet several times a day.  You can make circles to the left and to the right, bend your feet forward and backward, and wiggle your toes.  These movements will keep your circulation flowing.

Diabetes complications don’t have to happen.  Take time every day to check your feet. Keeping your feet healthy keeps you healthy. 

For more information on living a healthy lifestyle, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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