diabetes-footcare

Diabetes and Footcare

Written by Amy Ng
Pharmacist Manager of CP Glen Huntly

Diabetes is a long term condition where the body is unable to convert the glucose in our blood into energy. Our pancreas produces insulin that is responsible for this happening.

As a result, this leaves too much glucose in our blood which can eventually affect nearly all our vital organs in our body.

Diabetes can either be due to our pancreas not producing any insulin at all, called Type 1 diabetes. Or the more common form of diabetes is Type 2, where our pancreas in unable to produce enough insulin and it does not work effectively. Over 80% of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes

If our blood sugars are too high, it can cause damage to small and large blood vessels. This can result in

  • damage to the eyes causing loss of vision
  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as increased blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, heart attacks
  • damage to the kidneys
  • damage to the feet – causing nerve damage and loss of blood vessel supply

People who suffer from diabetes really need to take care of many things that affect their blood sugar levels. These include weight control, having a healthy diet, regular exercise, taking medication properly, testing blood sugar levels, regular visits to GP and health professionals and finally, foot care to ensure that any damage can be prevented.

Ask your local Community Pharmacist if you need any help with managing your diabetes.

We use our feet everyday to get from place A to B. Here is a 10 step checklist for diabetics (and even non-diabetics!) to make sure we are taking care of our feet

1. Check your feet daily if you can!

  1. Look for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling and infected toe nails
  2. Check your feet every evening
  3. Use a plastic mirror to see your feet if you have trouble bending
  4. Nails need to be trimmed following the natural curve of the nail and not too short or long. Corners and edges need to be smoothed with an emery board

2. Wash feet daily

  1. Wash feet in warm, NOT HOT, water. If you can comfortably put your elbow in the water, this temperature is safe
  2. Dry your feet well, especially between toes to prevent tinea on the feet. Use drying powders if needed

3. Keep skin soft and smooth

  1. Put a thin layer of foot cream or foot balm on the tops and bottoms of feet before bed. Not between the toes as this can cause tinea
  2. Wear cotton socks to prevent slippery feet

4. Get other feet conditions treated properly. But diabetics should NEVER treat any foot conditions without consulting a health professional first, such as your pharmacist, GP or podiatrist.

  1. Calluses (thick skin at the bottom of the foot) and Corns (thick or hard skin on toes). Usually caused by ill-fitting footwear. Treated by smoothing down the skin and protection cushions
  2. Dry skin- treated with foot creams or balms. Reduces risk of skin tears
  3. Bunions- an inherited condition, causing a large bump to develop on the large toe.
  4. Ingrown toe nails- where nail grows into the surrounding toe causing pain, inflammation and infection. The affected nail need to be trimmed horizontally and not too short. Never dig into the corners of the toe nail as it can cause ingrown toe nails
  5. Tinea- fungal skin condition that forms between toes, causing skin peeling, redness and itchiness. Caused by excess moisture in between toe nails. Requires antifungal creams
  6. Blisters- fluid filled sac on the skin due to too much friction or pressure. Do not burst it as it can cause infection. Protect blister with padding. If it does burst, do not remove skin tag, but keep it clean and check for infection.

5. Wear shoes and socks at all times.

  1. NEVER WALK BAREFOOT, even indoors. Wear non-slip indoor slippers
  2. Socks need to be soft, cotton and lightly padded. Not too tight.
  3. Wear correct fitting footwear.
  4. Check insides of shoes and socks before putting them on

6. Protect feet from the hot and the cold

  1. Wear shoes on hot pavement or at the beach
  2. Put sunscreen on the tops of your feet
  3. Do not put hot water bottles or heating pads on feet
  4. Keep feet away from open fires or radiators
  5. Wear socks at night, bed socks are good

7. Be active and exercise

  1. This helps foot circulation as well as helping with keeping muscle strength, reducing arthritis, keeping your heart healthy.
  2. Walking, swimming, dancing are easy on the feet
  3. Wear athletic shoes that fit well and provide good support

8. Keep the blood flowing to your feet

  1. Put feet up when sitting
  2. Wiggle your toes for 5 minutes , doing this 2-3 times per day
  3. Move ankles up and down & in and out
  4. Do not smoke as it reduces blood circulation
  5. Do not cross your legs for a long period of time as it affects circulation

9. Yearly foot check with your GP or podiatrist

  1. Checks for nerve damage in the foot
  2. Teaches you proper foot care techniques
  3. Whether you need special shoes or orthotics or footcare aids
  4. Write down the date of your last foot check

10. Come into Community Pharmacy and talk to our friendly staff for more information on how you can take care of your feet and managing diabetes

Signs that you should get your feet looked at by a health professional like a Dr, podiatrist or even your local pharmacist!

  1. If your cut, sore, bruise or blister doesn’t begin to heal after 1 day
  2. Any pain, swelling, warmth, redness in legs or feet
  3. Loss of feeling in the feet

References

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Diabetes_and_feet
http://www.diabetesvic.org.au/living-with-diabetes/complications-of-diabetes

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