Taking care of your feet during the winter time

Foot care during winter is extremely important for diabetics.

If you have diabetes, foot care is an extremely important component of self-managing your condition. About 20 percent of individuals with diabetes suffer foot complications such as ulcers and infections and end up in the hospital. Winter can make foot care more challenging, but there are certain actions you can take to keep your feet healthy.

Inspect your feet daily. Look at all the pressure areas of your feet and don’t forget between your toes. Inspect your feet for any breaks on the skin or changes in color, odor, or any painful calluses. Wear white socks that make any bleeding visible and inspect your socks regularly for any stains. If you can’t inspect your feet closely, try an inspection mirror designed for this purpose. You can also ask a friend or a family member to help. If you find any changes, make sure you communicate that to your health care provider.

Pick the right footwear. In cold weather, the increased moisture and dampness combined with decreased circulation can cause foot ulcers. Your footwear must be weather appropriate and provide warmth and protection from rain, snow and ice. Additionally, they must be roomy and not constrict blood flow. In cold weather, wool socks will keep you warm. To wick away moisture, consider wearing polypropylene socks.

Keep your feet dry this winter as moisture due to wet and cold weather can lead to bacterial growth between your toes that can lead to unwanted infections. When your feet get wet, make sure you dry between your feet completely and don’t forget between your toes.

Don’t forget to moisturize your feet as dry winter heat can cause dryness. Avoid heat directed at your feet whether it’s from heaters at home or in the car for prolonged periods of time. Use a diabetes-appropriate foot moisturizer but avoid too much moisturizer between your toes.

If you have any nerve damage in your feet, be careful when warming up your feet with electric blankets, hot water, or using a heater or radiator. Always check the water temperature with your hands before you soak your feet. Don’t forget to trim your toenails. Control your blood sugar this winter by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly.

Find out more about Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition programs.

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