Take A Look To Keep Your Feet

Daily diligence will help keep you on your toes for life.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

When you were born, I bet your mother counted your fingers and your toes to make sure everything was okay.  Now that you have diabetes, it's important that you continue to count the toes on your feet every day, but don't stop there.  Take a look at your toes, in between your toes, around your toes, and at your entire foot every day.  Looking at your feet every day is the first vision?  If so, are your blood glucose numbers near normal?  Changes in your blood glucose can affect your eyes.  If this is a recent change, you should meet with your health care team to find out why your vision is a problem. You may need to make some changes in your diabetes management.  You may need to see an eye doctor for treatment or for a new pair of glasses. If you have had poor vision for some time, ask a loved one or a friend to look at your feet every day for you.

Is it because you can't reach your feet to see well?  If so, there are big mirrors with long handles that allow you to see your feet in the mirror.  Make sure you look at the bottoms of your feet.

What if I notice a change in my feet?
Determine what kind of change it is. Think about why the change occurred.  For example, you may notice redness on the arch of your foot and on the heel area. Think about if there was any rubbing on those areas. If so, think about where it came from.  Maybe the rubbing came from a new pair of shoes you wore.  In that case, don't wear those shoes and see if the redness goes away.  If it doesn't go away within twenty-four hours, call your health care team. 

Think about why the change occurred.  As another example, you notice a sore on the bottom of your foot.  Try to remember if you went barefoot.  If so, you might have stepped on something and not felt it.  If you didn't go barefoot, check the inside of your shoe. Maybe there was something in it that caused it.  Wash the area thoroughly with mild soap and water.  You may cover it with an antibiotic ointment or cream, and bandage it to protect it. Stay off the area. If it is not better in twenty-four hours, call your health care team.  If it is red, warm, or has drainage do not wait the twenty-four hours.  Call as soon as you notice it.

Why is it so important I report changes in my feet so soon?
The quicker you get treatment for your redness and sores, the better chance you have for getting them healed.  Many people who have non-healing wounds waited too long to get help.  They thought they could take care of it themselves.  They tried for too long, and then it was too late. 

What other things should I look for?
Don't just look at your feet.  Look and feel inside your shoes every day when you put them on.  Shake them out to make sure there's nothing in your shoes you may be stepping on.

Look to make sure your shoes fit correctly.  One way of telling if your shoes fit is to do this:

1. Put your foot on a piece of paper
2. Draw around your foot with a pen or pencil on the paper
3. Take your shoe and place it on the drawing
4. If the drawing of your foot goes outside your shoe, your shoes are too tight. Don't wear them.
5. If the drawing of your foot fits inside your shoes, your shoes fit.  Wear them.

Look at your floor.  Even though people with diabetes should never walk barefoot, many people report they do.  Think about this.  Most accidents happen at home.  Nevertheless, if you are going to walk barefoot at home, make sure your floor is clean, vacuumed, or washed so as to prevent you from stepping on anything.  Make sure throw rugs are non-slip or get rid of them altogether.  They are a big risk for you slipping and taking a tumble.  If so, you may have more than foot problems. 

This is just the beginning. We'll have more for you next time. There are so many questions and answers. If you have any questions about caring for your feet, please write. We want to help you and your dLife family and friends to keep your feet forever.


Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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