For individuals with diabetes, skin and foot care are an integral part of monitoring the body for health complications. Of those with diabetes, 25 percent will develop a foot ulceration, with a large percentage of those needing amputation within four years of their initial foot issue or injury. However, your skin can give you warning signs of a developing foot problem before there’s an open sore and in time to avoid talk of amputation.
Your Skin Sounds the Alarm
Diabetics face health challenges on a number of fronts, with the feet at particular risk for nerve damage, circulatory problems, and infection. Some of the warning signs related to the feet include:
- Ulcer (open sore) that lasts more than a week
- Plantar warts
- Unexplained pain
- Skin discoloration
- Fungal infections
Foot and foot skin care can alert you to any of the above or other foot-related complications. Quick action on your part can help you get early treatment to prevent limb loss.
9 Ways to Prevent Diabetic Limb Loss with Good Skin Care1. Consistent Diabetes Management
Diabetes management lays the foundation for your diabetic health. Small changes in your skin can indicate larger problems with your diabetes management. Talk with your doctor about any changes or issues you have managing diabetes. Be vigilant about monitoring your blood sugar levels and keep open lines of communication with your health team.
2. Regular Foot Exams
Diabetic skin care includes daily foot exams. Check everywhere, including areas you can’t see, like the bottom of the foot, behind the heel, and between the toes. Use a mirror to check these areas or have someone help you. Take note of anything that looks or feels out of the ordinary, like numbness or discolorations. If you find something, call your doctor and start home treatments immediately.3. Moisturize the Feet
Well-moisturized skin is flexible and supple, giving it extra strength to resist injury. A moisturizing formula like VitalFit’s Day Moisturizer that contains antifungal and antimicrobial properties can act as an added barrier of protection against infection. Your skin heals at night, so be sure to moisturize before bed with a night moisturizer that supports healing and skin rejuvenation.
Tip: Perform your daily foot exam when you’re moisturizing your feet.
4. Stimulate the Feet
Long periods spent standing or sitting can limit circulation in the legs and feet. Periodically wiggle those toes and roll your feet and ankles to keep blood flowing.
Tip: If you have a chance during the day, take your shoes off to move your toes in an unconfined space.
5. Pay Attention to Hot Spots
Physical exercise is an important part of diabetes management, but pay attention to how your feet feel. If you notice a hot spot, stop and take care of it immediately. Hot spots that develop into blisters may be slow to heal and then become a potential source of infection. If there’s any peripheral neuropathy, you may not notice a hot spot forming, making daily foot exams extremely important.6. Keep the Feet Clean
Wash your feet with a gentle cleanser every day. Diabetes puts you at higher risk for athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. Regular washing removes bacteria and microbes that could cause infection.7. Keep the Feet Dry
Fungi love dark, moist areas, so keep those feet dry. Dry your feet thoroughly after showering and monitor your perspiration levels throughout the day. On particularly hot days, you may need to keep a change of socks with you to keep the feet dry. Dry feet not only resist fungal infections, but they’re less likely to chafe and get blisters.
8. Wear the Right Shoes
Fit matters. Wear shoes that fit well but leave room for your feet to breathe and toes to move. Some people find that wide-width shoes leave more room and pose less risk of rubbing and chafing. Be careful of shoe styles. Flip flops, for example, may leave your feet too exposed or rub between the toes.9. Keep the Feet Covered
Bare feet are usually a no-go for people with diabetes. Whether you’re in the house or outside, your feet need some protection. A supportive pair of slippers may help you avoid a toe stub or cut on the foot.
You never know what’s lurking in the outdoors. Everything from glass to insects can leave a wound that can become a point of infection. Wear shoes every time you’re outside. Foot coverage can also prevent the skin from drying and cracking.
Make foot care a part of your daily routine. With regular care, you can maintain the health of your feet and get an early warning that it’s time to take action. Be consistent, and your feet will thank you.