If you have diabetes, it is critical that you have regular foot exams, at least every six months, by your doctor or a foot health professional—such as a podiatrist. A foot exam can reveal a lesion that hasn’t healed or may be infected. You may not feel pain, but that doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Any untreated foot infection increases the risk of amputation.
Also, do daily foot inspections yourself. Look and feel for bumps, lumps, blisters or bruises; cuts, sores or cracked skin; patches of thin or shiny skin, which can signal lack of blood flow; tingling or numbness; ingrown toenails with red, puffy skin along the nail and tenderness or pain. Check the bottom of your feet with a hand mirror if you aren’t flexible enough to look at the soles. See a health professional to treat any of these conditions.
Follow these additional tips to keep your feet healthy and free of sores and infections:
1. Clean and dry
Wash your feet every day with lukewarm water, making sure to dry them thoroughly, especially between and under toes; athlete’s foot or other fungal infections can occur in moist areas of the feet.
2. Fit and trim
Trim your toenails regularly or have a foot health professional do it for you.
3. Keep your hands to yourself
Don’t cut or file calluses or other protrusions on your feet and don’t use wart removers or other harsh chemicals.
4. Get comfy
Have new shoes properly measured and fitted—don’t wear shoes that are too loose or too tight.
5. Search your shoes
Check inside shoes daily for sharp points, sharp edges, seams or other rough areas or foreign objects that may lead to cuts, wounds or abrasions.
6. Stay sweat-free
Wear padded socks made of acrylic or acrylic blends to protect feet and keep moisture away.
7. Go with the flow
Walk as much as possible to boost blood flow to the feet and help with weight and blood sugar control.
8. Be vocal
See a podiatrist or other foot health professional immediately if you notice any signs of infection.