Diabetes has become a serious issue in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 30 million people have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Another 84 million have prediabetes —higher-than-normal blood sugar level but not high enough to be diabetes.

Here are some simple steps to inspect and care for your feet proactively, which helps prevent skin damage that can lead to ulcers and amputations:

  • Check your feet — top, bottom, sides, between the toes, toenails — at least once daily. If you have trouble seeing the bottoms or sides of your feet, use a mirror that allows you to see your whole foot. Look and feel for bumps, lumps, blisters, bruises, cuts, sores, cracked skin or ingrown toenails. Even the tiniest crack can become infected. Notice any pain, tingling or numbness, which can indicate nerve problems. If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.
  • See a podiatrist for regular foot examinations and foot care. Encourage your primary care physician to check your feet during regular examinations.
  • Wash feet daily using lukewarm — never hot — water. Use an elbow to test temperature.  After washing, dry feet thoroughly and keep them supple by applying lotion to the tops and bottoms of the feet only.
  • Don’t attempt to cut toenails or cut or file calluses if you have neuropathy or other diabetic foot problems. See a podiatrist or foot care nurse regularly for toenail care. Never use wart removers or other harsh chemicals.
  • Wear properly selected and fitted padded socks with well-made shoes and any inserts or orthotics prescribed by a medical professional. Padded socks can help prevent injuries to the skin/soft tissue of the foot, a major cause of diabetic ulcerations.  Components properly fitted as a system — padded socks, insert/orthotic, shoes — provide better protection.
  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day (if possible, rotate at least two pairs). Change your padded socks daily — more often if active.
  • Check inside shoes daily for sharp points, sharp edges, seams or other rough areas or foreign objects that may lead to wounds or abrasions on your feet.
  • Don’t cross your legs for extended periods. This can reduce blood flow and create pressure points. Likewise, don’t sit for more than an hour or two without changing positions.
  • Walk as much as possible. Doing so enhances circulation to the feet and helps with weight and blood sugar control.

Following these suggestions can help reduce your risk significantly for ulceration and amputation. Help prevent potential trouble by staying aware of your foot health.