Diabetes can cause nerve damage and numbness, as well as decreased circulation that makes it harder for your body to fight infection. Patients with numbness problems may not notice if they injure a foot. Hence a diabetes test for foot exam is recommended. A resulting infection may not heal well, and skin and other tissue may die. In a small minority of cases, the problem progresses into a complication that requires amputation.
Remove your socks and shoes each time you visit your doctor as a reminder for him or her to check your feet for sores and infections.
Once or twice a year, your doctor should do a more thorough foot exam. Ask him or her to make sure your foot nerves and blood circulation are all right.
Between doctor’s visits, follow a daily routine of caring for your feet and inspecting them. Carefully check the top and bottom of your feet and between your toes. Look for sores or ulcers, breaks in the skin, blisters, redness that suggests an infection, ingrown toenails, or any other changes that worry you. Report any problems to your doctor right away.
Other preventive tips:
- Protect your feet with comfortable shoes that fit well. Before you put on shoes, always check to make sure there are no pebbles or other objects inside.
- Test water temperature before you put your feet in to prevent burns.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water and dry them thoroughly to help prevent infection.
- After bathing, moisturize dry skin on your feet with lotion, petroleum jelly, lanolin, or oil to prevent skin from cracking, which can lead to infection. Don’t put lotion between your toes.
- Ask your doctor to show you how to trim toenails. Soak your feet in lukewarm water to soften nails and trim them straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.
- If you have corns or calluses, have them checked and removed by a podiatrist, a health care professional who specializes in managing foot diseases.
- Exercise regularly and avoid smoking to promote good circulation.
- Don’t walk around barefoot.