Keeping your feet healthy

Healthy feet are important for all of us, but for people with diabetes, special attention needs to be kept to maintain healthy feet.

When people are diagnosed with diabetes, they need to learn many new ways to go about their lifestyle. These include learning to plan healthy meals, knowing what medication to take and when to take it and managing their blood sugar levels to avoid complications.

Uncontrolled diabetes leads to many complications including an increased risk for heart disease, kidney failure, vision problems, nerve damage and problems with feet. According to Today’s Podiatrist, these are some of the foot symptoms diabetics need to check for every day:

  • Bleeding in corns or calluses
  • Dry cracks in the skin of the feet, especially in the heel area
  • Ingrown or fungal toenails
  • Numbness in the feet or toes
  • Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
  • Pain in the legs
  • Changes in skin color
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles

If you have diabetes, the above signs could indicate that your diabetes is uncontrolled. If you do not have diabetes, the above signs could be an indication that you might be at risk of developing diabetes. For either situation, contact your primary care physician or a podiatrist.

A condition known as diabetic neuropathy means damage of the nerves in the feet. Often you will feel a tingling or burning sensation when nerve damage occurs. The problem with developing neuropathy is that injuries to the foot such as cuts or open sores may not be discovered. The sensation of pain is no longer felt due to the numbness that occurs. Undetected sores may lead to more extensive damage, resulting in amputation.

To avoid or lessen the risk of developing problems there are steps you can take. These include:

  • Checking your feet every day for cuts, sores, bruises or changes to your toenails.
  • Keeping your feet clean and dry. Wash your feet every day and dry carefully, especially between the toes.
  • Wear properly fitted shoes and avoid going barefoot. Some podiatrists also caution their patients about wearing sandals, which leave bare feet exposed.
  • Exercise every day. Walking will help improve circulation and lower your risk of developing complications.
  • Schedule an appointment with your personal care physician or podiatrist for foot care. Don’t attempt to remove corns or calluses by yourself. Improper removal can result in infections. Health care professionals can also check your feet for other problems, including finding areas of numbness.

Keeping your feet healthy will help prevent diabetes complications. For more information on preventing diabetes and lowering your risk for diabetes complications, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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