Summer Toes, Feet, and Shoes

Toeing the line between fashion and best health choices

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

Here it is: Summertime. I bet many of you wore sandals in the summer … that is B.D., or Before Diabetes. I bet a lot of you still wear sandals. Not the best option for shoes for people who have diabetes. But let's be real: I know many of you still wear sandals. I also know that most women get pedicures so their feet and toes will look delicious in those sandals, although pedicure are not the best choice for people who have diabetes.

But you can have diabetes and pretty up your feet and nails. Here are some practical tips of how to have prettier, healthier summer feet and nails for people who have diabetes and must have that pedicure.

Prior to Your Pedicure

  • Clipping Toenails

It would be best if your toenails are clipped before your pedicure. If your vision is still good, if you don't have thick, discolored nails, and if you are able to bend over to reach your toes, you can clip them yourself. Remember, not too short and follow the contour of your nail. If you can't do all I mentioned, see your podiatrist to clip your nails. Most insurance covers this service if you have diabetes.

  • Supplies

Buy your own supplies to bring with you to your salon. One never knows how really clean their supplies are. Bring your own pumice stone, file, orange stick, cuticle oil, and polish. Some salons will sell them to you and keep them for you. Buying them there is fine, but I suggest you bring your supplies home to store until your next appointments. Store your supplies somewhere they can be open to air rather than in a plastic bag where the moisture can be a set up for "bugs" to grow on your supplies.

During Your Visit

  • Soaking Your Feet

Most pedicure and spa services soak your feet in warm to hot water. Soaking feet is not recommended for people who have diabetes. You just don't know what's been in that tub before you or how well it's been cleaned. There are other reasons you should not soak your feet. If you won't give this up, it is important you tell them you have diabetes, and you want the water to be less than lukewarm. Best for you to check the water with your elbow or better yet, bring a bath thermometer to make sure the water is between 90-95% F.

  • Cuticles

It is VERY important you do not have your cuticles cut. If anything, they can be gently pushed back with your orange stick. Do not allow anyone, including you, cut your cuticles or the skin behind your toenails. Using cuticle oil on your cuticles does make them look better. Just keeping your feet well moisturized helps your cuticles look better.

  • Sloughing of Dry Areas

It is okay for someone to gently use your pumice stone, not the metal kind, on your dry areas. Don't let anyone get too aggressive. This can cause sores that may not heal. Many times it will take daily GENTLE use of the pumice stone to get your feet as smooth as you would like. It also takes a good moisturizer used daily to keep your feet soft and pretty.

  • Filing

It's okay to file your nails as long as it's done gently, with your own file, while the person looks at what they are doing. If someone is not watching carefully, he/she can file your skin, causing a sore that may not heal which can be dangerous for people who have diabetes.

  • Polishing

Whether or not a person who has diabetes should polish their toenails remains controversial. If you have an infection, even one you don't know about, it will make it more difficult for the infection to heal. But here again, I understand there are some of you that NO MATTER WHAT will have their nails polished. I say, well at least you won't be cutting yourself. Just make sure you pick out a pretty color, buy it and bring it to the salon to be used only for you. Remember,the polishes there have been used by others. Change your polish weekly so you can look at your nails and make sure they look healthy. If you notice any changes, keep the polish off and call your health care provider.

  • Shoes

After your nails are polished, you usually wear a set of flip flops. These are dangerous because they provide no protection for your feet. But again, if you must…wear them only until your nails are dry. Look at your feet to make sure a pebble or something like that didn't get in and cause a sore.

Well, that's it for the preparation….next…Summer Shoes.


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.

Part 2: Summer Toes, Feet, and Shoes: Part 2

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

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