Keep Your Feet Healthy
What can I do to take care of my feet?
- Wash your feet in warm water every day. Make sure the water is not too hot by testing the temperature with your elbow. Do not soak your feet. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.
- Look at your feet every day to check for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or other problems. Checking every day is even more important if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow. If you cannot bend over or pull your feet up to check them, use a mirror. If you cannot see well, ask someone else to check your feet.
- If your skin is dry, rub lotion on your feet after you wash and dry them. Do not put lotion between your toes.
- Cut your toenails once a week or when needed. Cut toenails when they are soft from washing. Cut them to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board.
- Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries.
- Always wear socks or stockings to avoid blisters. Do not wear socks or knee-high stockings that are too tight below your knee.
- Wear shoes that fit well. Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are bigger. Break in shoes slowly. Wear them 1 to 2 hours each day for the first 1 to 2 weeks.
- Before putting your shoes on, feel the insides to make sure they have no sharp edges or objects that might injure your feet.
How can I get my doctor to help me take care of my feet?
- Tell your doctor right away about any foot problems.
- Ask your doctor to look at your feet at each diabetes checkup. To make sure your doctor checks your feet, take off your shoes and socks before your doctor comes into the room.
- Ask your doctor to check how well the nerves in your feet sense feeling.
- Ask your doctor to check how well blood is flowing to your legs and feet.
- Ask your doctor to show you the best way to trim your toenails. Ask what lotion or cream to use on your legs and feet.
- If you cannot cut your toenails or you have a foot problem, ask your doctor to send you to a foot doctor, or podiatrist.
How can special shoes help my feet?
Special shoes and shoe inserts (i.e., orthotics) can be made to fit softly around your sore feet or feet that have changed shape. These special shoes help protect your feet. Medicare and other health insurance programs may pay for special shoes. Talk to your doctor about how and where to get them.
Excerpted and adapted from NIH Publication No. 03-4282
The American Diabetes Association emphasizes that all patients with insensate feet, foot deformities, or a history of foot ulcers have their feet examined at every visit.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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