Proper Foot Care for People with DiabetesPosted by Medicare Made Clear
People who have diabetes are usually at greater risk of developing foot problems than people who don’t have it. Even a seemingly minor problem on the foot of person with diabetes should be dealt with because it can quickly turn into a serious infection. It is important that you see your doctor right away if you notice something on the foot that doesn’t seem quite right. There are several causes of foot problems in people with diabetes.
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by an increase of glucose in the blood. If you experience numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness in the foot, see your doctor, you may have nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy usually affects the nerves that provide sensation in the foot. When the nerves are damaged and sensation in the foot is decreased, the foot may be numb. As a result, a small cut or blister on the foot may go unnoticed and turn into a serious infection such as gangrene. Gangrene can lead to amputation of the foot or leg for some people. Fortunately, many amputations are preventable with regular care and proper footwear. Nerve damage can also cause your feet and toes to change shape. Instead of forcing deformed feet into regular shoes, talk to your doctor about prescription therapeutic shoes, which may be covered by Medicare or other insurance.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the narrowing of blood vessels in the feet, which means less blood and oxygen are carried to the feet. This can delay healing of wounds, like cuts and blisters on the foot and cause infections. Redness, swelling and increased temperature in the foot may be signs of infection. See your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Smoking can also cause the blood vessels to narrow. Many times, people who need amputations due to foot infections have diabetes and smoke. Smoking is one of the biggest threats to your feet. If you smoke, it is important that you stop smoking right away. The Medicare Part B preventive services benefit covers counseling to help you quit smoking.
Skin issues, such as calluses, corns or cracked skin on the feet of people with diabetes may turn into foot ulcers, which can lead to serious foot infections.
Proper Foot Care Tips
1. Control your blood glucose levels.
2. Inspect your feet, including between your toes, every day for redness, swelling, cracks, blisters, calluses or other injuries.
3. Wash your feet daily with a mild soap. Carefully dry your feet, especially between the toes. Do not soak your feet. It may cause dry skin and cracking.
4. Avoid hot and cold water and surfaces. Damage may occur without you feeling it.
5. Moisturize the tops, bottoms and sides of your feet. Do not use moisturizer between the toes. Doing so will create extra moisture, possibly causing infection.
6. Trim your toenails regularly. If you need help keeping your toenails trimmed, talk to your doctor.
7. Protect your feet from injury by wearing socks and sturdy shoes that fit well. Never walk around barefoot.
8. Don’t smoke.
9. See your doctor for a thorough foot exam at least once a year or more if you have foot problems.
Foot problems can usually be treated when found early. Minor infections can usually be treated with regular cleaning and antibiotics. When not treated early, minor infections can become severe. For these reasons, it’s important to take good care of your feet and see your doctor right away if you experience any foot problems.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Diabetes Foot Care: Interactive Tool and PDF — NIH, National Institutes of Health
Is Somebody You Love Still Smoking?: MedicareMadeClear.com
American Diabetes Association®: Diabetes.org