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This section of the website is for UK healthcare professionals only. If you are not a healthcare professional, please click here.

Diabetes? 5 tips for healthier feet

Fulcoe from Cleveland Clinic

Published on MSD Connect: August 2019

If you have diabetes, you know how easy it is to injure your feet without even realising it. Nerve damage from diabetes can cause numbness in their extremities, and when your blood sugar is elevated, your body’s ability to fight off infection or heal a wound is also lessened. Unnoticed and untreated, a foot wound for a person with diabetes can cause a serious medical problem.

Medical professional treating injured feet

Here are five ways your patients can take care of their feet including how to lower risk for injury, as well as what to do if an injury does occur.

1. Do daily skin checks

Touch and inspect your feet every day. Check for cuts, bruises, swelling or tender areas. Clean cuts with plain soap and water and cover with a dry dressing. If you have problems checking your feet because of your eyesight, ask a family member to help you.

2. Keep feet clean and comfortable

Wash your feet each day in warm water. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes where moisture can develop. Apply lotion every day but keep the area between the toes dry. Wear comfortable shoes and clean socks that don’t have holes or rough seams that could irritate your skin.

3. Never go barefoot

In the summer you might want to be barefoot, but if you have diabetes, even a simple injury like a stubbed toe can lead to a foot ulcer or other complications. Keep a pair of slippers by your bed and always wear something on your feet when you are inside as well as outside.

4. Control your sugar

Stay within the targeting blood sugar levels that your healthcare provider recommends. The American Diabetes Association recommends target blood sugar levels be less than 7.2 mmol/L fasting and before meals and no higher than 10 mmol/L two hours after meals.

To maintain your target goals, follow your individualised meal plan, keep an eye on carbohydrate servings and, if you take medication for your diabetes, be consistent in taking them.

5. Treat foot wounds right away

If you do have a foot wound, early intervention is key. Clean the area with soap and water and cover with a bandage or dry dressing. If you don’t notice an improvement after one day, contact your healthcare provider. Don’t try to self-treat or use over-the-counter treatments, as they can be caustic and irritating to people with diabetes.

As a person with diabetes, if an infection is left untreated for long, you may require oral antibiotics. If it becomes serious, it can lead to a hospitalisation for intravenous antibiotics or surgery. In the worst cases, untreated infections of the foot can lead to amputation.

This article was originally published by Cleveland Clinic, 13 July 2019.

Some of the units and values provided in this article are from sources outside the UK. For UK guidance on the management of diabetes, please refer to NICE or your local guidelines.

This article was written by Fulcoe from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Minor grammatical and translational editorial changes may have been made to this article by MSD, which has no impact on the content of the article. This is to ensure all articles remain as relevant as possible to UK Healthcare Professionals.

GB-NON-02004 | Date of Preparation: December 2019

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