Diabetes can damage nerves in your arms and legs. It’s called peripheral neuropathy. If you have it, your feet and skin need extra care and attention.
Small injuries to your feet, like those caused by shoes that don’t fit well, can lead to bigger problems. That's because calluses, blisters, sores, infections, and foot ulcers often appear in places that are numb from nerve damage. You may not notice the injury.
Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care.
"Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."
Also, people with uncontrolled diabetes may have other problems, like trouble fighting infections and poor circulation, that make them slower to heal. This means a minor cut in your skin could become an ulcer or a serious infection. With good foot care, you can prevent issues like these.
How to Take Care of Your Feet
Caring for your feet is easy. It's best to do it at bath time or as you get ready for bed. Remember that good foot care also means seeing a doctor early if you spot a problem so it doesn’t get worse.
Follow these everyday habits:
Check your feet daily. Wash and dry them thoroughly. Use a handheld mirror to inspect them. Look for blisters, cuts, cracks, dry skin, redness, tenderness, or sores on the top, between your toes, and on the soles.
Put powder between your toes. This helps keep those moist areas dry and helps prevent fungal infections.
Rub lotion on your feet and legs to prevent dry, cracked skin. But don't put it between your toes because that can lead to fungal infections.
Keep your nails trimmed. Use an emery board for filing, not clippers, so you don't hurt your skin.
Protect your feet. Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injury. Don't use a heating pad or hot water bottle to warm your feet. You could burn them without feeling it.
Get checkups. On each visit, make sure the doctor inspects your feet.
Don't use corn removers or other drugstore foot treatments. They can be harmful. Let a doctor treat your foot problems.
Tom Elasy, MD, MPH, Ann and Roscoe R. Robinson Associate Professor of Clinical Research at Diabetes Center, director, Center for Diabetes Translational Research, director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.
National Diabetes Education Program: "Take Care of Your Feet for a Lifetime."
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.