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Diabetes: Best Foot Care

Our experts tell you how to protect your feet if you have diabetes.

Diabetes Experts' Tips on Foot Care continued...

Be sure the shoe fits. Indoors or out, wear properly fitting, closed-toe shoes to protect feet from stubs and bangs. After age 40, when feet get wider, consider prescription orthopedic footwear for better balance and stability. Never go barefoot.

Wear socks. Clean, light-colored, and lightly padded socks will show blood or draining wounds so you can easily spot problems. Avoid slow-drying, 100% cotton socks in favor of synthetic blends that wick moisture away and discourage fungus.

Fight fungus. Fungus, which thrives in moisture, can lead to infection. Where can you pick up fungus? From carpet, showers, and gym floors. To help kill it, use medicated foot powders like Tinactin or Micatin, and spray Lysol inside your athletic shoes.

Inspect daily. Take a good look at your feet every day. A recent study of male veterans with diabetes found that more than half couldn't see or reach the bottom of their feet. If you aren't flexible enough to see your soles, ask someone to help or use a magnifying mirror to scout trouble spots like redness, bruises, and tiny punctures.

Shake things up. Give your shoes a good shake regularly. Seemingly harmless debris like coins and pebbles can fall unnoticed into shoes, injuring feet.

Don't go to extremes. Insensitivity to temperature means you could accidentally damage your feet, so avoid becoming too hot or too cold.

Heat can cause feet to swell and can burn skin, so don't soak your feet in hot water -- and stay away from hot-water bottles, heaters, and fireplaces, too. Wear insulated boots and socks in very cold weather to help prevent frostbite.

Don't be callous. Don't attempt any kind of "surgery" by cutting your calluses yourself. You risk getting ulcers or infections, so call your doctor for help.

Mark the calendar. Schedule regular foot exams with your doctor -- every few months, or at least once a year -- to avoid emergencies later.

Managing Stress and Diabetes

Another critical aspect of diabetes management is staying stress-free. A little bit of stress can send your blood sugar out of control. Geralyn Spollett, NP, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association, offers these tips.

Exercise. "It's a great stress management tool. Walk on a treadmill or get out and hoof it in the fresh air."

Talk with a loved one. "Don't bottle it up inside. Find someone who will be sympathetic."

Get enough sleep. "You can't cope with stress very well if you're overtired. Get checked if you think you have sleep apnea, which causes snoring and abnormal breathing during snooze time."

Don't overeat. "Many times, people who are stressed like to eat because it's a comfort for them. But overeating can cause high blood sugar, so if you must, snack on carrots or rice cakes."

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Reviewed on September 13, 2012

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