When you have peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, your feet and skin need extra care and attention.
Very small, repetitive injuries to the feet -- like those caused by poorly fitting shoes -- can lead to bigger problems, experts say. That's because problems such as calluses, blisters, sores, infections, and foot ulcers often appear on areas of the foot that are numb and pressure or injury may go unnoticed.
If you have diabetes, a healthy diet does more than keep your blood sugar under better control. A good diabetes diet can also help prevent or delay the onset of complications such as nerve pain or heart disease.
Although some people talk about a "diabetes diet," there's really no such thing, experts say. The same healthy diet recommended for those without diabetes will help you if you have diabetes, too. You may need to then tailor the meal plan to your specific needs, such as lowering your cholesterol...
Also, people with uncontrolled diabetes have a hard time fighting infections. They may also have poor circulation that can lead to problems with healing. That means a minor cut in the skin could become an ulcer or develop into a serious infection. With good foot care, you can prevent most of these problems.
Inspect Feet Daily if You Have Diabetes
Even if you have diabetes, caring for your feet is easy. It's best to do it when you are bathing or getting ready for bed. And remember that good foot care also involves getting medical help early if a problem develops. It's very important to see your doctor for treatment right away to prevent serious complications like infections.
Here are good everyday foot care habits to follow:
Inspect feet daily. Wash your feet, and then thoroughly dry them. Use a handheld mirror (like a magnifying mirror) to inspect them. Look for blisters, cuts, cracks, dry skin, redness, tenderness, or sores on the skin, between the toes, and on the soles of your feet.
Powder in between your toes. This helps keep that moist skin dry and helps prevent fungal infections.
Rub lotion on feet and legs to prevent dry cracked skin. But don't put lotion between the toes because of the risk of fungal infections.
Keep nails trimmed. Use an emery board for filing so you don't hurt your skin.
Protect your feet. Always wear shoes or slippers to protect feet from injury. Don't use a heating pad or hot water bottle to warm your feet.
Get checkups at the doctor. On each visit, make sure the doctor inspects your feet.
Don't use corn removers or other drugstore foot treatments. These can be harmful. Let a doctor treat your foot problems.
Wear properly fitted shoes. Also, wear socks at all times to prevent injury.
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, Tenn.
WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Diabetes: Foot Problems Related to Diabetes."
WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Pain Management: Diabetes-Related Nerve Problems."
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